Patient Information :.
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Click here for our Food Allergy Survival Guide
Click here for an Introduction to Allergies
What causes an allergic reaction?
A typical allergic reaction happens in the following way:
1. Allergens enter the body by: being inhaled as with pollens, dust and animal dander, swallowed as with food or medicine, or injected as with penicillin or bee stings.
2. If you are allergic, your body may overreact, causing excess production of IgE.
3. Upon further exposure, the allergen binds with the IgE antibody and causes certain cells in your body to release histamine-like substances. These substances cause the allergic symptoms you’re familiar with, such as: watery eyes, sneezing, congestion, runny nose and rashes.
How allergies are diagnosed.
Accurate diagnosis of your allergy is key to successful treatment. In order to determine the specific allergens responsible, your physician will take the following steps:
Reviewing history can establish how and when the symptoms appear, whether they are seasonal or year-round, and whether they can be associated with any particular activity, place or exposure.
Your physical examination will focus on the eyes, ears, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, skin and gastrointestinal tract. Results of the exam will be more informative if performed "in season," or while the symptoms are at their peak.
Until the discovery of IgE, the skin test was the major diagnostic tool for allergies. With this method, approximately 50 to 200 tiny scratches, pricks, or needle sticks are made - usually on the upper back or arm - with small amounts of suspected allergens. After an appropriate time period (10-30 minutes), the skin is observed for any reaction.
New, improved In Vitro tests - RAST & IMMUNOCAP
Soon after the IgE antibody was discovered, researchers began to work on a new kind of test, generally referred to as RAST. Today, after years of clinical testing, RAST and ImmunoCap are both FDA-approved procedures used to help doctors identify the cause of your allergy.
A small part of your blood sample is mixed with different allergens and observed for a chemical reaction. The laboratory’s equipment and computers analyze the reaction and measure the amount of IgE for each allergen. Results are grouped into classes from zero (negative) to six (high positive). Your doctor will discuss the importance of these results with you.
The advantages of IN VITRO ALLERGY testing:
Since a single blood sample is used to test for many allergens, and serum is stored for later testing, fewer patient visits are required. It is easier to subject children to one needle stick for a blood test than multiple needle sticks for skin testing.
RAST measures only IgE, and is not affected by any medications you may be taking.
Strict laboratory procedures are followed to provide precise and accurate results. In vitro allergy testing is a very sensitive method of testing. It can detect even mild allergies.
We’re here to help.
This office has the newest diagnostic testing and treatment procedures available to put to work for you. We’ll perform the appropriate tests, and provide helpful hints to help make living with allergies a lot easier.
Some allergies do disappear or moderate with time or treatment, but most patients require continuing treatment in order to maintain a symptom-free life. Your doctor can prescribe a treatment program for you that will relieve or eliminate much of your discomfort.
You may also discover you can solve your problem simply by avoiding those things that trigger your allergy. If, for example, you are allergic to eggs, you avoid eating eggs.
Many allergens, such as pollen and dust, are unavoidable and require specific treatment. Many symptoms can be controlled by drugs such as antihistamines or cortisone.
Your doctor might also prescribe immunotherapy - allergy shots. In this procedure, small doses of the offending allergen are injected into the body over a period of time, gradually building up the body’s tolerance to that allergen.
A new alternative to shots are allergy drops, also known as sublingual immunotherapy. They are safe and effective and offer the convenience of taking them at home.
Whatever treatment your doctor prescribes, it’s important to continue your treatment on a regular basis. Trust your doctor and stay with the program.
Will this test accurately demonstrate whether I have allergies or not?
Absolutely! This laboratory test has been FDA accepted for years. It measures your antibodies to the picogram. Doctors from around the world, including the US military, hospitals, clinics, universities and other labs order this test.
What if I think I have food allergies?
There was a study done by the National Institutes of Health citing this test as possibly the best available test to determine food allergy.
Can I test for chemicals that I’m exposed to at work?
Probably. We can test for several hundred chemicals and occupational allergens found in the workplace.
Does my doctor know about these tests?
These tests have been around for many years. Your doctor is probably well aware of them.
Will my insurance cover these tests?
Most people are covered through their insurance, including Medicare. To be sure, we recommend you check with your company first.
How can I get this test performed on me?
We will be happy to send you information about these tests, as well as provide you with the supplies your doctor will need to get your blood sample to us. There is a nominal fee to cover shipping. Please call our toll free number (800) 222-5775 for details.
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