What is an allergy test and what does it tell us

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Allergy tests play a crucial role in identifying and managing allergic reactions, providing individuals with valuable insight into their body’s immune responses. According to White-Wilson Certified Physician Assistant Jennifer Bendokas, an experienced Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist, these tests are pivotal in uncovering potential allergens that may be triggering various symptoms.

What is an Allergy Test?

An allergy test is a diagnostic procedure designed to identify specific substances, known as allergens, that provoke an immune response in the body. There are various types of allergy tests, with the two most common being skin tests and blood tests.

  • Skin Tests: Skin tests involve introducing a small amount of allergen into the skin to observe the body’s reaction. This can be done through pricking the skin (skin prick test) or injecting a tiny amount under the skin (intradermal test). Reactions, such as redness or swelling, indicate an allergy.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests, like the specific IgE test, measure the presence of antibodies (immunoglobulin E or IgE) in the blood in response to specific allergens. A higher level of IgE antibodies suggests an allergic reaction.

“Conducting an allergy test is extremely useful in pinpointing the root cause of allergic symptoms for a patient,” elaborates PA Bendokas. “Before I can create a targeted and effective treatment plan, I need to know what specifically you are allergic to. The allergy test does just that.” 

What Does an Allergy Test Tell Us?

Allergy tests provide valuable information about an individual’s sensitivities to various allergens. PA Bendokas explains that the results can help in the following ways:

  1. Identifying Allergens: Allergy tests can pinpoint specific allergens, helping patients and health care professionals understand what substances trigger allergic reactions. This knowledge is essential for avoiding exposure and managing symptoms effectively.
  2. Customized Treatment Plans: Armed with information about specific allergens, health care providers can tailor treatment plans to address the individual’s unique needs. What combinations of common allergens affect an individual is unique and so a treatment plan also needs to be unique to the patient. A plan might include allergen avoidance strategies, medications or immunotherapy.
  3. Understanding Severity: The degree of the allergic reaction can vary, and allergy tests can provide insights into the severity of the sensitivity. This information guides health care professionals in determining the appropriate level of intervention and management.
  4. Monitoring Progress: If you start a tailored treatment plan, it may be helpful to complete a follow-up allergy test to monitor how well the plan is working. Regular testing helps to assess any changes in sensitivities and adjust the management approach accordingly.

Should You Get an Allergy Test?

Whether you are suffering from seasonal allergies, skin or eye irritations, sinus infections, chronic coughing or asthma, it may be beneficial to get an allergy test. Once your allergens are identified, a treatment plan can be created based on your individual results and needs. 

“These tests are an invaluable tool and aid in the identification and then the management of allergies,” says PA Bendokas. “By understanding your individual sensitivities, health care providers such as myself can take proactive steps toward ensuring you can enjoy a healthier and more comfortable life.” 

PA Bendokas emphasizes that patients interested in an allergy test should talk to their primary care provider or seek advice from an ENT specialist. White-Wilson’s ENT Clinic now offers a comprehensive allergy relief program focused on providing adult and pediatric patients with a long-term solution to allergy issues. For more information, click here

Jennifer Bendokas, PA-C is a certified physician assistant with White-Wilson Medical Center’s Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose & Throat) team. She is passionate about helping patients address sinus and allergy issues. Learn more about PA  Bendokas and her approach to patient care here