We can define an allergy as sensitivity to a substance which some people can tolerate and can generally be considered harmless. The substance causing the allergic reaction is called an allergen. Allergens can include airborne allergens, foods, medication, and venom. Sometimes allergens that come in contact with our skin cause itchiness or irritation. Allergens in the air we breathe include pollens, dust mites, animal dander, and molds, which can affect our eyes, nose, sinuses & lungs. Some of the common reactions to allergens are allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, and hives. You may also experience headaches, fatigue, cough, and frequent infections.
Our excellent physicians have advanced knowledge of the scientific basis of allergic and immunologic disorders, as well as up to date knowledge of the latest scientific studies regarding diagnosis and treatments, so as to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.
- Congested or runny nose
- Chronic cough or recurrent bronchitis
- Frequent colds, sinus infections, or ear infections
- Itchy eyes
- Hay fever
- Mental effects, such as fogginess
Our allergy testing will identify specific allergens that a patient may be sensitive to. These allergy tests include skin testing via prick and intradermal testing. Laboratory testing can also be ordered at any of our locations.
Skin testing for identifying allergies includes prick testing and intradermal testing. The skin testing procedure involves applying small amounts of various substances, like dust mites, molds, animal dander, and pollens, into the upper layer of skin (epidermis) and determining the allergic response.
Prick testing is conducted by our allergy staff, and utilizes a plastic multiprong device, with no needles, which places different allergens onto the skin. After the prick test, we wait 20 minutes and then identify the responses. A “positive” response causes a hive with redness and itching. Prick testing may cause a lot of temporary itching, but should not cause any pain as there are no injections. Prick testing at our office is offered for environmental, food, and venom allergies. Prick testing to Penicillin is also offered on a case by case basis.
Intradermal testing (IDT) requires a very small injection into the intradermal layer of the skin. This is similar to tuberculosis testing. Intradermal testing is usually performed when prick testing is negative. Intradermal testing is far fewer in quantity than prick testing because it tests for groups of allergens (i.e. grass mix, mold mix).
Allergy blood tests detect and measure the amount of allergen specific IgE antibodies in your blood. When you come into contact with an allergy trigger, known as an allergen, your body makes antibodies against it. Allergy blood tests can test for environmental, food, and venom sensitivity. Because there may be false-positives for IgE allergy testing, interpretation by a board-certified allergist is recommended.
Once patients have undergone allergy testing, by either skin or blood testing, our allergists here at the Allergy Asthma Clinic can talk to you about treatment options. Allergy immunotherapy, commonly referred to as allergy shots, is a common treatment option that can help desensitize you to your allergens. Allergy shots are customized mixes of various allergens you are allergic to based on your test results, so they are tailored to suit your needs.