Feeling nauseous and itchy all over your body after eating shellfish? Can’t stop sneezing when cleaning your room? You could be allergic to certain substances. The best way to find out if you have allergies is to see your allergologist.
“Allergy testing can determine what substances trigger your allergic response. A detailed medical history and a thorough physical exam give you precise information about your allergy concerns and how you can best manage them,” says Dr. Nicky Montoya, president of MediCard Philippines.
Some types of allergies are easy to determine because symptoms appear upon contact or ingestion of the allergen, like allergy and dust, which results in successive sneezing. However, certain types of allergies are harder to diagnose and can trigger fatal symptoms. Seek emergency treatment if you experience symptoms of anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that is potentially life-threatening. Its warning signs include swollen throat or a lump in your throat that makes breathing difficult, rapid pulse, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness, and severe drop in your blood pressure.
An allergist or a doctor who specializes in allergies may be prompted to conduct an allergy test if you report various symptoms after exposure to certain substances, including skin itchiness, watery eyes, nasal congestion, wheezing, chest congestion, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and swelling of the face or other parts of the body.
Types of allergy tests
Allergy testing can be performed in a variety of ways. One of the fastest and most proven ways is skin allergy testing, which studies your body’s reactions to suspected allergens by introducing them through your skin. It includes skin prick test, which lets a drop of an allergen solution penetrate your skin through scratches or needle pricks; intradermal test, which directly injects the allergen solution into your skin; and skin patch test, where a patch containing allergen is taped to your skin for 24 to 72 hours to determine contact dermatitis.
If you have a medical condition that may interfere with skin testing, your allergist may perform blood allergy testing as an alternative. One of these tests is enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA or EIA), which measures the level of immunoglobulin E or IgE in your blood. People who have allergies typically have higher IgE levels.
For suspected food and medication allergies, you may be asked to take the allergy challenge test, where you inhale or orally take a very small amount of allergen under your doctor’s supervision.
Safety precautions to take
Always make sure to see an allergist for allergy testing to get an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan. Licensed allergists also use allergen extracts or vaccines that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Avoid unsafe and unproven allergy tests. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) has identified a list of allergy testing methods that are ineffective and may lead to inappropriate diagnosis and treatment. These include applied kinesiology, which links allergy to your muscle strength or weakness; cytotoxic testing, which determines your food allergy based on the reaction of your blood cells from blood samples that are placed on a glass slide coated with food allergens; skin titration, which places varying amounts of allergens on the surface of your skin; urine autoinjection, which injects a small amount of your urine into your skin; and sublingual provocation and neutralization testing, which places allergens under your tongue.
MediCard has 12 free-standing clinics located in key cities nationwide that offer consultations, diagnostic tests and specialty medical services for young and adult patients. Visit www.medicardphils.com for more information.