Four Things You Should Know About Allergies

When most people think of allergies, they usually either think of the annoying symptoms of red, itchy watery eyes and sneezing from things like pollen and ragweed, or they think of the life-threatening allergic reactions some people have to shellfish, peanuts, or bees. In actuality, allergies can be much subtler than this. Sometimes, people suffer from various symptoms for years before they finally find an answer to their problem—they have an allergy. Here is a look at what you should know about allergies and what allergy testing entails.

What Is An Allergy?

An allergy is the body's abnormal immune system response to a substance it feels is a threat to you. Unfortunately, this hypersensitive reaction usually causes more damage than the substance itself.

What Kinds Of Allergies Do People Have?

People can be allergic to just about anything. In addition to plants and their pollen, people may be allergic to certain drugs, such as penicillin. They may have an allergy to different foods. They may have contact dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction by the skin to some substance it came in contact with, like poison ivy or a synthetic fabric. Many people have an allergy to latex and rubber, which is why most medical facilities no longer use latex gloves and mark your chart if you do have a latex sensitivity. Mold spores can cause an allergy, and unfortunately, many people live in homes with hidden black molds, which are making them sick and they don't even know that's what is causing their mysterious symptoms and chronic illnesses. Lastly, people can be allergic to animals and their dander.

What Kind Of Doctor Do You See For Allergy Testing?

Your regular primary care physician won't be able to conduct the testing required to determine what substances you are allergic to. For this, you will need to see an immunologist, a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of allergies as well as other immunologic disorders. Depending on the type of health care insurance you have, you may need a referral to an immunologist from your primary care physician, however.

What Is Done During Allergy Testing?

Most allergy testing is done by testing different substances on your skin. This is usually done on your back, where a series of small scratches or pin-pricks are made, the various substances being tested for are applied, and then checked for a reaction, such as swelling, itchiness, or other irritation. Other skin tests are applying a substance to a transdermal skin patch or injecting a small amount f the suspected allergen just under the skin. Blood tests are done for more serious allergies that can cause anaphylaxis. The blood test checks for associated antibodies.

Contact a clinic, like Mid America Ear, Nose, & Throat Clinic PC, for more help.