The only way to treat your allergy symptoms is to determine exactly what is causing them. This is done through a series of allergy tests.
What Is a Skin Prick Test?
Skin testing is done in two steps, each using different techniques. The first step is called multi-well prick test and involves the application of 6 Multi-Test devices to the forearm. These devices have no needles and do not break the skin. 24-48 allergens are placed on the skin as well as a small amount of histamine to make sure your skin is capable of producing a normal, visible skin reaction. Skin reactions are measured after 15 minutes. Itching, redness and wheals (small itchy bumps) indicate sensitivity to a particular allergen or normal response to histamine. If no response is seen to histamine an intradermal test will need to be applied.
The most common reason for lack of histamine response is the use of antihistamines or medications that block the normal histamine response. You will be given a list of medications that may interfere with testing. Be sure to alert us if you are taking one of these. The second step in skin testing is called intradermal testing. This test allows us to determine the degree of sensitivity to an allergen. Intradermal testing involves an injection of a very small volume of each allergen under the first few layers of skin of the upper arm to make a 4mm bump. After waiting 10 minutes, we measure the skin reaction to each allergen. We usually do this second step for people with severe allergic or sinus conditions, people who have not responded to allergy medications or people who are interested in allergy shots or drops.
An intradermal skin test is completed next. An intradermal wheal, or bleb, is injected directly under the top layer of skin. After 15 minutes any reactions are measured and classified as either positive or negative.
How Does a Blood Test Work?
A blood test is used to measure how much of an allergen-specific antibody, called immunoglobulin E (IgE), is in your blood. The more allergen specific IgE in your blood, the more likely you are to be allergic. They may also be used in lieu of skin tests if a serious allergy makes skin testing unsafe.
Call Southwest Idaho ENT at (208) 367-3320 for more information or to schedule an appointment.