Allergies are a common condition affecting more than one out of every 5 people. Allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system triggered by a typically harmless substance. This substance, such as pollen, mold or animal dander, is known as an allergen. When a person is exposed to an allergen, their bodies produce antibodies and release a variety of chemicals including histamine. Histamine is the main cause for most allergy symptoms. Most allergies are inherited. People with asthma are more likely to suffer from allergies. Since most allergens are found in the air, the reaction occurs in the eyes, nose and lungs. If the allergen is ingested, the reaction can occur in the mouth or stomach.
Screening for allergies is important in determining the cause of your troubling symptoms, and also in identifying the specific allergens that trigger your reactions. Identifying the specific cause of your symptoms lets you avoid these triggers as much as possible to reduce the frequency of symptoms.
The most common and accurate ways to identify allergens is skin prick testing. Skin tests use specific allergens to see if they trigger reactions on the skin. This can easily be done by placing a tiny drop of an allergy solution on a plastic application device, which introduces the allergen just under the skin. The reaction on the skin determines if there is an allergy present, and its severity. Results are read after 15 minutes.
Sometimes, it is also necessary to order blood testing. Blood tests screen the blood for IgE antibodies, which are made by the body in response to allergens. While blood tests can screen the body for a wide range of allergies, they are not as sensitive as other types of tests.
Dr. Lee can evaluate your allergies and prescribe the right test for you so that you achieve the most accurate results.