We know: All About Allergy Tests

What are allergies?

Allergies are body reactions triggered by substances containing allergens. Allergic reactions include:

  • Eyes, nose and throat itchiness, and chest and nose congestion and wheezing.
  • Skin itchiness and rashes.
  • Stomach cramping, diarrhea, anaphylaxis and reactions to insect bites.

Where are allergens found?

In the air and in food. Allergens are in dust mites, pet dander, mold, pollen and cockroach droppings. You can also have allergic reactions to drugs, rubber latex, insect stings, snake bites and various foods.

What are allergy tests?

Allergy tests are ways to determine which allergens are causing your allergic reactions. Most are performed by a doctor or immunologist.

NOTE: You can also buy kits to test for particular airborne allergens that might be present in the air in your home, including house dust mite droppings, animal dander, insect droppings and indoor molds.

How do allergy tests work?

Usually, the tests involve either injecting small amounts of allergens beneath your skin to see how you react, or test your blood in a lab to determine which allergens are causing the reactions.

Some commonly accepted tests doctors use include:

  • Injecting a small amount of allergens under the skin with a syringe.
  • Pricking the skin to introduce the allergens.
  • Inhaling or swallowing small amounts of allergens.
  • Blood testing (RAST), in which the doctor draws blood and sends it off to a lab.

How long does in take to get the test results?

Skin test results are available within a few minutes of administering the allergens. Blood tests are sent out to a lab and take longer.

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