4 Questions to Ask Your Allergy Specialist
Our allergy specialists at The Allergy & Asthma Center help treat a wide variety of allergies for patients of all ages. We have convenient locations to serve you in Lawrenceville GA, Atlanta GA and Conyers, GA.
Table of Contents:
What tests will you do to diagnose allergies?
What areas of my body can be affected by my allergic condition?
What can I expect at an allergy consultation?
What are the treatment options for different types of allergies?
Allergy testing can be done on the skin or through a blood test. Most allergists prefer the skin test because the results are available instantly and the patient can be tested for multiple allergies at the same time. A percutaneous test, also called a prick test is a skin test that involves the allergist placing a tiny amount of an allergen on the tip of a device called a multi-test or a plastic pick, then lightly pricking the surface of the skin. After waiting about 15 to 20 minutes, if an allergic reaction occurs it will reveal as a wheal (swelling) or flare (redness). The degree of the allergy is determined by the size of the reaction.
The stronger the allergy the larger the reaction on the skin. The prick test is commonly performed on the back or may be performed on the forearm and will include either one or more of the relevant allergens or a panel of the most standard allergens, including:
– Dust mites
– Pet hair
If the prick test does not demonstrate a significant reaction from the suspected allergens an intradermal test is performed, which uses a stronger concentration of the allergen injected slightly deeper under the skin of the arm with a very small needle. This test will often reveal allergies that the prick test was unable to detect.
The third type of test an allergist may perform is a blood test, known as a RAST (radioallergosorbent) test. Allergy testing through the blood is more commonly performed when skin tests can’t be properly done; this includes very young children, patients taking certain medications, or with patients who have certain skin conditions that might interfere with the skin test.
Though blood tests can accurately predict allergies, the drawbacks of drawing blood are that the results are not immediately available and blood testing generally costs more than the skin test, especially if large amounts of allergens are being tested.
Additional tests that can be performed include:
– Challenge testing
– Elimination then Challenge testing
– Patch testing
Genetics plays an important role in the symptoms and severity of a person’s allergic reaction as does the amount of allergen the person has been exposed to. Reactions or symptoms of an allergy can range from mild to very severe to possibly life-threatening, and it all depends on the substance involved. Different allergic reactions manifest in different areas of the body and can affect sinuses, nasal passages, airways, lungs, mouth, lips and throat, skin, face, eyes, or the digestive system. These areas can experience itching, swelling, hives, wheezing or difficulty in breathing, cough or chest congestion, tingling in the mouth, or watery and itchy eyes. An urgent, life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis.
The first thing your allergist will do at your initial consultation will be to conduct a detailed medical history, get details on any medications you’ve tried to relieve your allergy symptoms, and if you have questions or concerns about the allergic reactions you have recently experienced. Depending on what is revealed during your consultation, your allergist will decide which type of test is most appropriate. Once the allergy has been identified, your allergist will develop a treatment plan to try and eliminate your allergy symptoms, or at least help keep them under control.
After determining what is causing your allergic reactions, your allergist will develop a treatment plan, which may include:
– Avoidance of the allergen – You will be shown steps to take on how to avoid the allergy triggers.
– Medications – These may help to reduce your immune system response and ease symptoms.
– Immunotherapy – Long-term treatment involving allergy shots to decrease allergy symptoms.
– Epinephrine – Used in case of an emergency reaction called anaphylaxis.
At the Allergy & Asthma Center in Atlanta, our team of highly trained and experienced physicians and allergy specialists take great pride in helping those in our community who suffer from allergies get back to breathing and living better. Call one of our locations to set up your consultation, or visit our website for more information or directions. We serve patients from Lawrenceville GA, Atlanta GA, Conyers GA, Suwanee GA, Duluth GA, Grayson GA, Decatur GA, Brookhaven GA, Lithonia GA and Covington GA.