Northside Allergy and Asthma Georgia
Do you suffer from something that you suspect is an allergic reaction, but are unsure of what you are allergic to? If your answer is “yes” and you live anywhere in Atlanta, GA, or surrounding areas, Northside Allergy and Asthma is the best place for you to have your questions answered and put your fears to rest.
Highly Skilled and Experienced Allergist in Atlanta
As a highly skilled and experienced allergist, we know that the most crucial step in allergy treatment is the initial test to determine the precise source of your allergic reaction. The safest and most efficient allergy determinant is a skin test, where we place a concentrated sample of the most common allergens – such as mold, dust, pollen, pet dander, and foods – onto your forearm or back. If an area of your skin associated with a specific allergen experiences swelling, it will confirm your existing allergy.
When is Allergy Testing Appropriate?
Symptoms which usually alert an allergist to perform testing include:
- Respiratory: itchy eyes, nose or throat; nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, chest congestion, cough or wheezing
- Skin: itchiness or eczema
- Abdominal: vomiting or cramping and diarrhea consistently after eating certain foods
- Severe reactions to stinging insects (other than swelling at the site of the sting)
- Anaphylaxis: a serious allergic reaction that affects multiple parts of the body at once
What are IgE Skin Tests?
This type of allergy testing is the most common. This is when a very small amount of an allergen is put onto your skin by making small marks and pricks on the surface of your skin. If you have allergies to the allergen used, you will then start to show an allergic reaction.
There are 3 types of IgE Skin Tests:
Skin Scratch Test – This is the most common method, where we scratch the outer layer of your skin to insert the allergen. The test itself takes 10 minutes and has a 15-minute wait time for a reaction to occur.
Skin Injection Test – This is another great option, particularly if you are being tested for sensitivity to insect bites or penicillin. The timing is approximately the same as that of the scratch test.
Patch Test – This is a less common method, where we place allergen-filled patches onto your skin. The test requires 2 visits with a wait time of 48 hours.
Allergy Test Safety
Allergy skin tests are equally safe for both adults and children. However, we strongly recommend informing us of any medications that you or your child may be taking prior to scheduling the skin test.
How to Prepare for An Allergy Test
Before a doctor will recommend a skin test for allergy testing, they will ask you a list of detailed questions about yours or your child’s medical history, signs/symptoms, and how you treat your allergies at home. These questions help determine if allergies run in your family and if it is an allergic reaction that is causing the symptoms that you describe.
Can Medications Interfere with Allergy Testing Results?
Before your doctor can schedule a test, make sure that they know about all your prescription and non-prescription medication that you take. Some medications can alter the allergic reactions caused during the test, or not show a reaction at all. To make sure that your getting 100% results out of the performed testing the doctor and allergy specialist will need to know this detailed information.
For some medications, it takes time for all the medication to clear out of your system. Depending on the medication that you are taking, your doctor may request that you stop taking certain drugs for up to 10 days. Some of the medications that can interfere with a skin test include:
- Prescription Antihistamines: Levocetirizine (Xyzal) and Desloratadine (Clarinex).
- Over-The-Counter Antihistamines: Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, etc.), Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), Cetirizine (Zyrtec, etc.) and Fexofenadine (Allegra).
- Tricyclic Antidepressants: Nortriptyline (Pamelor) and Desipramine (Norpramin).
- Some Heartburn Medications: Cimetidine (Tagamet) and Ranitidine (Zantac).
- Asthma medication: Omalizumab (Xolair)
Blood Tests for Allergies
Blood tests are used for people that are unable to have a skin test performed on them due to sensitivity. Even though a blood test is less sensitive than skin tests. It is possible for people to have a positive reaction to a skin test but have a negative reaction to a blood test.
The most common blood test performed is called an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA, EIA) What this test does is measure the blood level of a type of antibody called Immunoglobulin E or IgE, That the body may produce in response to a certain allergen. IgE levels are often higher in people with allergies and/or asthma.
There are two other tests that a lab may perform which are called Radioallergosorbent Testing (RAST) or an Immunoassay Capture Test (ImminoCAP, UniCAP or PharmaciaCAP)
What is a Challenge Allergy Test?
This is when a small amount of an allergen is inhaled or taken by mouth. This type of allergy testing is performed when there is potential for a food or medication allergy. For this type of test to take place, it is important that the patient is supervised by a physician with specialized training and experience.
Why Would a Blood Test Need to be Done Instead?
A Blood test may be performed instead of a Skin test for multiple reasons, such as:
- The patient has hives or another skin condition, such as eczema, which can make it hard to see the results of skin testing.
- The patient is unable to stop taking a certain medicine, such as an antihistamine or tricyclic antidepressant, that can prevent or reduce a reaction.
- The patient has had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
- The patient has had positive skin tests to many foods. A test called Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) can find out the type of foods that a person is most likely allergic to.
Contact A Local Allergist
To learn more about our allergy testing and/or to schedule your first appointment, please do not hesitate to contact Northside Allergy and Asthma today at one of our 5 convenient locations – Atlanta, Roswell, Duluth, Cummings, or Johns Creek. You can also use one of our online appointment request forms.