Man with watering eyes from environmental allergies

Most people are familiar with allergies, but far fewer understand why they occur. Allergies are caused by exposure to specific substances, which are called allergens. To determine what you may be allergic to or what’s causing an allergic reaction, you may need to take an allergy test. To ensure that your allergy test is accurate, it’s important to have it performed by qualified specialists like our team at South Florida ENT Associates. Here, we’ll take a closer look at allergy tests and the specific allergens that they can detect.

Types of Allergen Tests

There are several types of allergen tests available to identify specific allergens that may be causing your symptoms. These tests include:

Skin Prick Test

The skin prick test is one of the most common types of allergy tests. During this test, a small amount of the suspected allergen is placed on your skin, usually on your forearm or back. The skin is then pricked with a small needle to allow the allergen to enter your skin. If you are allergic to the substance, you will develop a raised, red, itchy bump at the site of the prick within 15-20 minutes.

Blood Test

A blood test, also known as a specific IgE (sIgE) test, measures the amount of antibodies in your blood that are produced in response to a specific allergen. The test involves taking a blood sample and sending it to a laboratory for analysis.

Oral Food Challenge

An oral food challenge is a test used to diagnose food allergies. During this test, you will be given small amounts of the suspected allergen to eat while being closely monitored for any symptoms. The amount of the allergen is gradually increased until a reaction occurs or until you have consumed a normal serving size without any symptoms.

Patch Test

A patch test is used to diagnose contact dermatitis, a type of skin allergy that occurs when your skin comes into contact with a specific substance. During this test, small amounts of the suspected allergen are placed on patches, which are then applied to your skin. The patches are left in place for 48 hours and then removed to check for any reactions.

Common Allergens Tested

Allergen tests can test for a variety of different allergens. Here are some of the most common allergens tested for:

Food Allergens

Food allergies are very common and can be caused by a variety of allergens. The food allergens that can be tested with allergy tests include the following:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

Food allergens can be tested for using either a skin test or a blood test.

Airborne Allergens

Airborne allergens are allergens that are present in the air and can trigger an allergic reaction when inhaled. The most common airborne allergens include the following:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Mold spores

Like food allergens, airborne allergens can be tested for with either a skin test or a blood test. 

Contact Allergens

Contact allergens are allergens that cause an allergic reaction when they come into contact with the skin. Common contact allergens include the following:

  • Latex
  • Metals (such as nickel)
  • Fragrances
  • Cosmetics
  • Poison ivy

Contact allergens need to be tested for using a patch test.

What Is the Takeaway?

Nobody likes dealing with allergic reactions, and allergy tests can be an effective way to find out what you’re allergic to and avoid future problems. They can also help you determine the specific cause of a past allergic reaction. At South Florida ENT Associates, our skilled ENT specialists are highly experienced in administering and evaluating allergy tests. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more or schedule a consultation.

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