What is the most reliable allergy test?
Do you sneeze after dusting your home? Perhaps your eyes get watery after battling in the sand during the summer. Or maybe your skin starts to itch after eating a particular type of food. Fortunately for you, science takes away the guesswork through allergy testing. You can only be sure about your allergies, the necessary treatments, and how to avoid them after testing for the suspected allergies. In this piece, we will discuss some of the most reliable allergy tests and compare them to find the best.
Skin prick test
Skin prick test is arguably one of the most common allergy tests administered and, according to Penn Medicine Becker ENT’s allergists in Princeton, the preferred testing method of all. They are believed to be the most accurate and inexpensive way to test for allergies. Skin prick tests provide results within a short span of about twenty minutes.
Your allergist will ask you to stretch your arm, or in some cases, the backside may be more suitable for the skin prick test. The allergist then places a small drop of the suspected allergens on the skin and begins to prick the skin’s surface with a needle. You may test three to twenty-five allergens until your allergist confirms the exact allergen that seems to trigger the violent reactions. If you are allergic to a particular substance, your doctor will observe your reactions that may appear in the form of redness, itchiness, or swelling within fifteen minutes.
What to expect from results
The skin prick test can be carried out on anyone, including babies. Your results from the skin prick test may suggest:
- Positive results don’t diagnose allergies.
- Positive skin prick tests don’t determine the degree of severity of allergic reactions.
- Negative tests don’t necessarily mean that you aren’t allergic to the substance. You could be testing negative from taking antihistamines before the allergy test.
What if you test negative despite having a history of allergies?
In some cases, you may test negative to different allergens even though you’ve had a history of allergies in the past. Your allergist in Princeton may recommend avoiding antihistamine drugs or any other medication for at least a week and return for another skin prick test. However, if the results are urgently needed, you may proceed and undergo intradermal skin testing. This type of test involves injecting a diluted allergen extract into the upper layer of the skin with a needle. Coupled with the skin prick test, your allergist may come up with a conclusive result as to whether or not you are allergic to a substance.
Benefits of the skin prick test:
- They are the most cost-effective tests
- They yield fast results
- They are simple to conduct
- They produce accurate results in most cases
- They are thought to be the safest allergy test
Cons of the skin prick test:
- Depending on the severity of the allergic reaction, they require remarkable skills for accurate results
- Sometimes the results are hard to read
- The results may get tampered or affected by certain medications, especially antihistamines
- The process of pricking the skin multiple times can be torturous on children
Blood tests compare favorably with skin tests and come close as one of the most common and reliable types of allergy tests. Blood allergy testing has the capability of determining the presence of more than 650 allergens from one sample. Radioallergosorbent testing, also known as RAST testing, was typically the only conventional blood test when diagnosing allergies. Thanks to modern technology, medicine, and advancements, newer blood allergy tests are now available. They include ImmunoCAP testing and ELISA tests.
What do blood tests involve?
During a blood analysis, your allergist may decide to use the serum total IgE or a specific IgE.
Serum total IgE: The test generally measures all IgE levels in the blood. According to scientists, the technique doesn’t yield accurate results as some conditions such as viral infections, skin illnesses, or fungi infections could trigger a high count of IgE content. Serum total IgE doesn’t necessarily mean that a patient is allergic to certain substances, which brings us to testing for specific IgE.
Specific IgE: This test is directed to testing a specific allergen such as peanut, penicillin, or pollen. Your allergist in Princeton will derive a blood sample and send it to the laboratory. Different allergens will be added to various portions of your blood sample. Your blood should react by producing antibodies that attack the allergens. The lab should measure the number of antibodies being produced and reveal some conclusive results about the presence of an allergy. The higher your levels of specific IgE, the more severe the symptoms you are likely to experience.
Pros of blood tests:
- They are accurate
- Because they only require one needle prick, they are classified as simple and best recommended for kids
- The results aren’t affected by medications
Cons of blood tests:
- Blood test results take a while to process, and you might have to wait for a long time before getting the results
- They are expensive compared to skin tests
- They can be hard to read and require high skills to interpret the results
Why are allergy tests so important?
With allergy tests, you get to find effective treatments for your allergies. Your allergist will guide you on how to avoid allergic reactions and help you lead a healthy and happy life. Moreover, allergy testing is the only sure way of drawing conclusive results on why you react violently to certain substances. It saves you the trouble of trying and failing.
If you suspect that you or your loved one has an allergy towards a specific substance, an allergist should help you best in confirming it. Only a professional can help you decide on which of the above-discussed allergy tests suits you and your needs.