Home Allergy Tests

For most people, home allergy tests can aid them in managing their health, but some examinations must be done in a physician's office, especially when trying to determine which substances are causing the symptoms. A doctor will use food allergy testing to locate the foods that are causing the patient to feel ill. The doctor may also ask the patient to fill out a survey or medical diary to identify the source of the problem. Often, this diary will be done first so that the physician can narrow down the number of products that he will have to identify. Most people think of skin testing as the way to narrow down the causes. Positive reactions appear quickly and can be interpreted in less than an hour. The examination means that a dilute solution of an antigen is introduced to the skin. An antigen is a special substance that causes hypersensitivity in the body that results in a wide variety of reactions. This can include eczema, hives, hay fever, vascular problems, wheezing, shortness of breath, and mucus production. Antigens can also be called allergens. It is estimated that about fifteen percent of people have some kind of allergy. For those who are allergic to some kind of foods, they are sensitive to pollens or chemicals that are swallowed. Most people just excrete these substances; but others find that their bodies wage a battle against them. Antibodies are produced which are constantly on guard for these substances. When the allergen enters the body, these antibodies detect an enemy and begin the process that produces an allergic reaction. Part of the process is the release of histamines, which are stored in white blood cells. The release of these histamines is what causes the reactions.

Once the body begins to produce the substances that are used in this process, they may cause persistent, severe, and difficult symptoms. Repeated exposure to these allergens can make allergies worse. Therefore, the first exposure may produce mild reaction, but as each exposure happens, the reactions get more severe. That's why it's so important to do home allergy tests to determine which substances are causing the problem so that fare can be avoided. Another important element to the food allergy testing is when a person is sensitive to one provision, he may be also sensitive to related foods. These related products may share characteristics that will create a cross-reaction. For example, a person who cannot each peaches may also have to avoid almonds since they are both in the same family. Some people take shots to desensitize themselves to the offending product. The shot introduces the offending antigen into the body in small doses. Then the doses are increased until the body no longer reacts to the product. But sometimes the administered doses cause a severe reaction in the patient, so not all doctors recommend these treatments.

Magazines, television channels, and radio stations are filled with advertisements for products that claim to help those afflicted with sensitivities to certain antigens. Some claim to "cure" the disease. Usually, these ads will include a testimonial from someone who claims to have used the product and been cured. Some are even home allergy tests that say they can help determine the substances that are causing the symptoms. These products need to be used with the knowledge of an attending physician so that treatments at home and at the clinic are not countering each other and making the disease worse. Hair analysis can be effective food allergy testing if done correctly. One problem that may arise is that the exam may indicate chemical components of shampoo, hair spray, or other items used in the care of the scalp. A qualified nutritionist must be consulted to find accurate diagnosis. Some people claim that those who suffer from these problems have genetic or familial metabolism abnormalities that are causing the reactions. One thing is for sure, a sound nutritional diet will help any type of disease, so that is one avenue that someone who is undergoing food allergy testing can take. Another place that people who suffer with these problems can look is in determining sensitivity to foodstuff additives. One such additive is tartrazine, which is found in dye colors. Some of the offending products are baked goods, colored cereals, chips, canned fruits, jello, margarine and butter, puddings, toothpaste, and yogurt. Another offending additive is metabisulfite, which is used as a preservative. It can be found in beer, cheeses, cider, fruit juices, jello, potatoes, sausage, dehydrated vegetables, and wines. Salicylate is found in medications like aspirin and is also used as a preservative. Some of the foodstuffs to avoid are most cold cereals, unprocessed potatoes and rice, chocolate, many vegetables and fruits, a number of spices, alcoholic beverages, and certain pain relievers.

The Bible tells us that "wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it." Wisdom means doing food allergy testing, determining the substances that are causing symptoms, and either avoiding these products or dealing with the reactions. No matter which home allergy tests that are used, it must be part of the greater treatment plan that involves medical professionals and diet. Interpreting the results of these exams can be tricky, and complex. For example, skin reactions may not always coincide with clinical symptoms. Special circumstances may make the interpretation difficult. Some people have skin that is so sensitive that it will develop redness even after being stroked or touched. It may react positively to anything, including the negative control, which is usually saline.

Allergy Testing

Without allergy testing, people tend to find out about their allergies the hard way. Itchy, watery eyes and congestion are just a couple of possible symptoms. Some people eat peanuts and breakout into hives. With an allergy test, though, people can learn what causes their reactions in a controlled situation by looking at their diet, skin and blood. A radioallergosorbent (RAST) or blood test has to be conducted by a lab, but a skin examination and diet monitoring can be done at home. Either form of examination is recommended for people with asthma or rhinitis. Easily controlled reactions don't require testing. For instance, whenever Pam eats her favorite dish at the local Italian restaurant, she experiences a mild, itchiness on her arms which goes away in a few hours. Something in the dish causes her to have this reaction; however, since her symptoms are so mild and bearable, there is really no medical need for her to seek out the exact cause in the meal. In the case of Paul, who is dangerously allergic to penicillin, it would be medically necessary to determine this before Paul is treated with the drug.

Taking a skin allergy test is the least expensive and simplest way to determine what a person's body reacts to. However, the person must have an idea of what is causing a reaction is in order to do the test. With the suspected allergen in mind, patients can choose between the scratch or patch tests. The scratch examination involves putting the suspected symptom-causing substance on one's forearm or back and then scratching or pricking the skin's surface on that spot with a clean needle. If the result is positive, swelling or redness will appear within 20 minutes of contact. The other skin option is intradermal which just means that the substance is injected into the skin rather than just being exposed to the open surface. Those doing these examinations, though, should use extreme caution as reactions can be more intense following an intradermal trial. A patch examination is similar, but takes longer. The person is supposed to wear a patch containing the substance for about two days. Then the skin is examined for redness and swelling. Skin allergy testing is most useful for those with reactions to penicillin, insect bites, certain foods and inhaled substances (respiratory).

There is also the option of having blood allergy testing. These come in forms besides just a RAST, including Fluoro-allergosorbent (FAST), Multiple antigen simultaneous (MAST), and Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A blood allergy test involves having blood drawn from the arm by a health professional. The blood is then sent to a lab where the sample is placed on a special paper and examined. Lab professionals will then determine if the person's blood contains antibodies for the suspected allergens. Blood work is examined for an elevated blood count or an elevation in white blood cells. Although these allergy tests are more expensive than those of the skin, blood work is most effective for reactions caused by drugs and non-food allergens. In addition, this determiner keeps the tester from being forced to encounter a possible allergen and suffer with the symptoms.

Another helpful form of allergy testing is by the process of elimination. This is best for people with suspected reactions to particular foods. This allergy test is simple because it just requires eliminating suspected foods from one's diet to see if reactions come to a stop. This can take weeks of work, though, as one tries to alter their diet and monitor reactions. A person trying food elimination should keep a log of their food intake and record symptoms or a lack there of. Patients should report their results to a doctor, especially if the results seem to narrow down the culprit. A doctor can then arrange to determine without a doubt what their body is reacting to and possibly prescribe a medication. If there is no medication, the doctor may just advise the patient to avoid the food or keep intake at a bare minimum. Overall, with wisdom and strength, people are able to fight off symptoms everyday. "The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness" (Psalm 41:3).

No matter what your body reacts to, it is important to try and find out what the cause is. Even if your symptoms are mild, in the future, reactions could become more severe. People should take an allergy test to keep exposure to their allergens minimal or get medication for their reactions. Those with questions about their symptoms should always consult their physician. The patient should also notify their physician if they are doing allergy testing on their own. The doctor may recommend blood work or have other suggestions. Above all, always seek professional counsel when it comes to your body and your health.

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