Allergy Testing

More than 50 million people in the United States have an allergy of some kind. Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment. Today allergy tests are more convenient and accurate than ever before. When combined with a detailed medical history, allergy testing can identify the specific things that trigger your allergic reactions.

Are there any allergy testing side effects?

Any medical test involves some risk. The risk with allergy skin tests is that allergy symptoms might occur during the test. The most common symptoms are itching and swelling of the skin where the tests are. In rare cases, a more serious reaction can occur. That is why skin tests should be done by a specialist. The risk with allergy blood tests is pain or bleeding at the needle mark. Also, a few people may faint during blood testing.

What about allergy testing in children? Who can be tested for allergies?

Adults and children of any age can be tested for allergies.

How is allergy testing done?

Allergy testing can be done as skin tests or as blood tests. Usually, allergy tests are done under the guidance of an allergy specialist. These specialists are trained in the best methods for testing and treating allergies.

Which test method is best?

Skin tests give fast results. They usually cost less than allergy blood tests. What are the negatives? Some medicines can interfere with the tests. Also, the skill of the tester may affect the results. The test should be done by a person with lots of training.

Blood tests are helpful because they involve a single needle prick. Medicine does not interfere with the results. However, it takes a long time to get the results, and depending on the test, there can be false positives. Blood tests cost more than skin tests. There are many of types of allergy blood tests. Some types are more helpful than others.

Each test method has pluses and minuses. The test results alone do not diagnose allergies. All test results, from either type of test, must be interpreted together with the medical history.