An allergy test is an exam performed by a trained allergy specialist to determine if your body has an allergic reaction to a known substance. The exam can be in the form of a blood test, a skin test, or an elimination diet.
Allergies occur when your immune system, which isyour body’s natural defense, overreacts to something in your environment. For example, pollen, which is normally harmless, can cause your body to overreact. This overreaction can lead to:
a runny nose
itchy, watery eyes
Types of allergens!
Allergens are substances that can cause an allergic reaction. There are three primary types of allergens:
Inhaled allergens affect the body when they come in contact with the lungs or membranes of the nostrils or throat. Pollen is the most common inhaled allergen.
Ingested allergens are present in certain foods, such as peanuts, soy, and seafood.
Contact allergens must come in contact with your skin to produce a reaction. An example of a reaction from a contact allergen is the rash and itching caused by poison ivy.
Allergy tests involve exposing you to a very small amount of a particular allergen and recording the reaction.
Why is allergy testing performed?
Allergies affect more than 50 million people living in the USA, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Inhaled allergens are by far the most common type. Seasonal allergies and hay fever, which is an allergic response to pollen, affect more than 40 million Americans.
The World Allergy Organization estimates that asthma is responsible for 250,000 deaths annually. These deaths can be avoided with proper allergy care, as asthma is considered an allergic disease process.
Allergy testing can determine which particular pollens, molds, or other substances you’re allergic to. You may need medication to treat your allergies. Alternatively, you can try to avoid your allergy triggers.