Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
Being allergic means your immune system overreacts to otherwise non-threatening elements of our environment. Pollen in the air, dust in a carpet, or a simple peanut butter sandwich would become the cause of continuous sneezing, runny nose, or skin rashes. When you know what triggers your allergies, you can work on avoiding them.
But, the problem sets in when you don’t know about all of your triggers. Or in a worst-case scenario – you have no clue that you are allergic to certain things. Considering the fact that allergies can impact the quality of life and may sometimes lead to life-threatening reactions, you would not want to take a chance and leave your body to suffer.
So, what can you do here to prevent the misery or at least stay prepared?
An allergy test is your savior in this situation. What is it? How can it help you? What benefits does it have? Let’s see –
[Also read – Know the truth behind popular allergy myths]
What is an allergy test?
Allergy tests determine whether or not you are allergic to known substances. These are always done by trained allergy specialists. The exam can be done in the following ways –
- Blood test – When you get exposed to a specific allergen, your body produces antibodies to fight that off. The blood tests detect these antibodies and their presence helps a doctor make a diagnosis. One of the most effective allergy blood tests is called Phadiatop. It uses ImmunoCAP containing a tiny sample of a wide range of inhalant allergens, the reaction of the blood with these allergens is determined to make a diagnosis. This test has an accuracy of over 90% and is one of the most reliable methods to understand the type of allergy you have.
- Skin test – There are three types of skin tests here (scratch, intradermal and patch tests). All three work by exposing your skin to a tiny amount of allergen to determine your body’s reaction to it.
- Elimination diet – This type is used to diagnose food allergies. It involves removing certain foods from the diet and later adding them back in to determine which foods cause problems.
What are the benefits of an allergy test?
Takes the guesswork out
When you don’t really know about your allergies, you might wonder why after eating a sandwich your nose started running or why a cold breeze is making your skin red and itchy. You may dismiss these allergy symptoms thinking it’s nothing but a coincidence or you are just coming down with a cold when in fact you are having an allergic reaction. Every time you’ll get in contact with your allergens, you’ll have a reaction unless you start treatment. But, for that, you need to know the cause and this is where an allergy test helps. The allergy test will tell you what you are allergic to. It will tell you how severe your allergies are. And then accordingly you can plan further course of action.
[Also read – Allergy & Spring season: What is the relation?]
Eliminate suspected allergens and make lifestyle changes
Once you know what you are allergic to – peanut, pollen, dust, pet – you can work on eliminating these allergens from your life. If it’s a pet, you can find a new home for it. If it’s pollen, you can avoid going out when the amount of pollen in the air is high. However, in the case of food allergies, you should not stop taking any food without consulting a doctor because it may lead to deficiencies. Otherwise, simple lifestyle changes can certainly improve your quality of life.
Plan a proper treatment
There are various allergy treatment options available such as immunotherapy and allergy shots. When you have an accurate diagnosis, you, with the help of a doctor, can plan proper treatment. Note that the treatment isn’t a cure. It just alleviates your symptoms. But even that is enough to make living with allergies easy.
So, if you think you are allergic but don’t know what triggers you, or aren’t sure whether you’re having an allergic reaction or coming down with a cold – get an allergy test done! Diagnose your condition before complications develop and it’s too late to do anything about it.
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