About 60 million Americans suffer from allergy symptoms every year, and if you’re one of them, you’re probably really familiar with at least some of the most common symptoms: itching, watery eyes; sneezing; coughing — even hives or rashes.
One of the best ways to reduce or eliminate those allergic reactions is to avoid whatever triggers your symptoms. But unless you know what those triggers are, it’s impossible to know what to avoid. That’s when allergy testing can help.
At ENT Specialists, our team performs comprehensive allergy testing using a patient-centered approach for the best results. Here’s how testing works at our offices — and how it could help you manage your allergy symptoms.
Why allergies happen
Allergic reactions happen when your immune system overreacts to a substance you have contact with. That substance could be something you eat, something you touch, or something you breathe in. Some of the most common allergic triggers (or allergens) include:
- Foods or food additives
- Insect bites
- Animal dander
- Body care products or makeup
- Cleaning products
- Smoke or fumes
When your immune system detects an allergen, it causes a variety of reactions, like sneezing, hives, and itching. While most allergies cause symptoms that are annoying but manageable, very serious allergies, like allergies to peanuts or bee stings, may cause life-threatening reactions.
How allergy testing helps
Allergy testing helps identify the substances causing your allergic reactions so we can help you find ways to reduce or eliminate those reactions. We offer different types of testing depending on your symptoms and other factors.
Intradermal testing (IDT)
IDT is perhaps the most well-known allergy testing method, used mainly for environmental allergens like molds, pollen, pet dander, or dust mites. Also called a “skin test,” IDT testing exposes your skin to tiny amounts of different allergens to see how your skin reacts.
During the test, we apply the allergens to an area of your skin (typically on your back). Then, shallow “pin pricks” or punctures are created in each area to allow the substance to penetrate your skin.
Each area is labeled with a code denoting the type of allergen. After a period of time, we “read” your skin to look for potential allergic reactions.
RAST stands for radioallergosorbent test — a big name for a simple blood test we use primarily to help identify food allergies.
In this test, we evaluate a small sample of your blood for immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, substances your body produces when it’s exposed to certain substances, like nuts. These antibodies are responsible for allergic reactions, like sneezing, rashes, and itching.
A food challenge (also called an oral food challenge or OFC) is used to confirm or rule out food allergies. In this type of test, you consume a specific food in gradually increasing amounts over a specific period of time, looking for possible allergic reactions, like rashes, itching, or gastrointestinal symptoms.
Once allergy testing identifies your allergic triggers, we’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan to help you find relief. For many people, treatment includes immunotherapy, a supervised treatment aimed at helping your body develop a tolerance to allergens over time.
Don’t let allergies control your life
Allergies can make life miserable, and depending on your triggers, they can even limit a lot of the activities you enjoy. Allergy testing is the first step toward getting your allergy symptoms under control, helping you target treatment so it’s most effective.
With locations in Salt Lake City, Murray, Draper, Tooele, and West Jordan, Utah, ENT Specialists helps patients of all ages get the care they need for allergies and other ear, nose, and throat issues. To learn more about allergy testing, book an appointment online or over the phone today.