ALLERGY TESTING AND DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES
At Premier Allergy & Asthma in Columbus, Ohio, we have several different methods we use for allergy testing, depending on the patient’s allergy, situation or severity. One testing method, called rush immunotherapy, involves rapid treatment of the disease by administering multiple shots over a short (several hours to several days) period of time. For common allergies to various foods, insects and airborne allergens, skin allergy testing could be the best option for you. Patch testing in an effective way to test for a delayed reaction to certain chemicals. Asthma is commonly diagnosed through spirometry testing, which measures the amount of air in your lungs and your ability to breathe. And for those who cannot undergo a skin test for any reason, laboratory allergy testing is an alternative diagnostic route.
We’ll use these various allergy testing methods to determine a patient’s allergies or asthma. Included is further information on the tests we conduct to better help diagnose your condition.
- Is Rush Immunotherapy Right for You?
- Skin Testing
- Patch Testing
- Laboratory Testing
- Diagnostic Imaging
IS RUSH IMMUNOTHERAPY RIGHT FOR YOU?
Immunotherapy is a medical term for the treatment of disease by inducing, enhancing, or suppressing an immune response. Not surprisingly, this type of therapy is often used for treating allergies. While other allergy treatments only target the symptoms of allergic reactions, immunotherapy is the only treatment available that actually reduces the body’s sensitivity to all allergens. Typically, a patient receives shots over the course of six months to a year, helping to suppress the unwanted effects of pollen and other allergy triggers. However, immunotherapy offers a chance to completely change the way your body responds to these triggers.
With rush immunotherapy, a patient will receive multiple shots throughout several hours to several days, achieving a maintenance dose in a very short period of time. After the initial period of treatment, a person is able to come into the allergist’s office typically only once a week for the next few weeks, and then even less often after that. People undergoing rush immunotherapy also achieve benefits from allergy shots rapidly, typically within a few weeks.
Some reasons to undergo this treatment include:
- If you have a life-threatening allergy to a particular insect venom, and that insect season is about to start.
- Shots are only available from an office that is far from your home, and you cannot make the needed number of visits.
- You are about to travel.
Unfortunately, rush immunization is not effective for all patients, but has been proven to work in most. Those worried about adverse effects of this fast-paced immunization schedule should know the treatment is proven safe by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. In 2006, the college reported that the protocol for administering this type of treatment to patients with multiple allergies is highly safe and effective. If you are considering rush immunotherapy, speak to your allergist today to find out if it’s right for you.
Our skin allergy testing procedure checks for insect, food, and airborne allergens through the measurement of your allergic antibodies levels to these allergens. To do this we use a small plastic device that applies tiny amounts of solutions to the skin with a prick or scratch that contain the various types of allergens. By checking for an area of raised skin, we’ll be able to determine if there is a positive reaction. However, even if there is an area of raised skin, it does not necessarily mean you are allergic to an allergen, as other factors play a role in the test. If an allergen does not show up on a prick test, we will repeat the test using a tiny needle in which we will inject a small amount of that allergen into the first layer of skin, which will form a small, mosquito-like bite bubble.
This allergy test typically yields results in 15-20 minutes, and the area tested could get itchy, but not for very long. Prior to having this test administered, you should avoid using antihistamines 5 to 7 days before coming in to get tested. This skin test is not usually performed on those who have suffered a life-threatening reaction, or to someone who has hives or severe eczema.
Patch allergy testing checks for chemicals that cause a delayed reaction, such as contact dermatitis. This test is performed by placing a safe, chemical patch on the person’s back. In order to have the patch placed on, patients should properly clean the skin and be freshly showered. No rubbing alcohol should be used in the cleaning process, and the patch will not be able to be properly placed if the subject is still wet. It the tape peels off, the entire process will have to be repeated. This patch stays on the skin for two days before being removed to be examined. It is again examined three to four days later to make sure nothing new has developed. The allergy test is considered positive if blisters, bumps, or swelling develops. When you are preparing to have this test done, you should avoid taking any systemic immunosuppressants or oral steroids up to one month before, and topical steroids should not be used on the area of the skin that the patch will be placed one week before having the test done. Any use of inhaled steroids, leukotriene receptor antagonists, or antihistamines are still allowed to be used.
By breathing into a mouthpiece that is attached to a spirometer, the physicians are able to determine the the amount of air in your lungs and your ability to move the air out of your lungs. It is designed to diagnose issues with asthma and monitor any treatment methods. The allergy test is non-invasive and the results are immediate. Upon taking the test, you might be given a bronchodilator treatment that will relieve some of the effects of asthma.
This allergy test is typically administered for those who are unable to undergo a skin test due to antihistamine use, skin diseases, chronic hives, or an immune system disorder. By taking a sample of blood, this test can determine environmental allergies and food allergies, as well as immune system deficiencies. It can also evaluate those with chronic hives. Test results are not immediate and typically take a few days to a couple weeks to become available.
These tests are performed at a hospital or radiology center where X-rays or CT scans are taken of the chest or sinuses in order to diagnose various lung diseases. Following the scan, a report will be sent to us and we may request that you bring a copy of the X-ray or CT scan to your appointment in order to go over the results. If it is determined you suffer from a lung condition, we will help determine the best course of action for treatment, which might include avoidance, allergen immunotherapy, and medication.