Your doctor may perform some types of diagnostic tests on you to identify the causes of your allergy and observe how your immune system reacts to them. You doctor may ask you some details of your medical history. This is vital to give him a picture of your symptoms and sensitivities. He might also query you about your family’s allergy history since allergies can be passed on to future generations.
Then you are required to undergo a physical exam to know your health status and your present allergy symptoms which can typically be congestion in the chest and/or inflamed sinuses. Your doctor can do a prick test on you to determine the specific causes of your allergy. This test entails the placement of tiny amounts of suspected allergens on your skin, after which the doctor pricks or scratches the skin surface to allow these allergens to enter your skin. If you are allergic to a specific allergen, an allergic wheal may develop on the treated skin within 10 minutes or so.
If he deems it necessary, the doctor may perform an intradermal test which is like a like prick test but instead of pricking or scratching the skin surface, he injects the allergen straight into your skin and monitor for an allergic response (an allergic wheal). This procedure is often supervised in case of extreme allergic reactions.
Another type of allergy test called a radioallergosorbent test or a RAST test for short takes in blood samples to gauge how much allergic antibodies you have in your blood when a specific trigger is introduced. The RAST test can verify an allergy and show the rate of intensity of your allergic reaction.
If you are suspected to be allergic to certain types of food, your doctor may require you to do an elimination diet to zoom in on the foods that exactly cause your allergy. This procedure entails the removal of suspicious foods from your daily food programme for some weeks to determine if your allergy disappears when the food is taken out of the programme. Afterwards, the foods are then gradually brought back into the menu to observe if your allergy starts up again. If your doctor wants you to try this technique, he will instruct you and have you monitor your progress and reactions over a certain period of time.
If your allergy doctor feels that additional alternative and complementary tests are needed to better diagnose your allergic condition, then the following tests may be chosen:
Cytotoxic testing – This is a kind of test to observe how your white blood cells react to a food allergen.
ALCAT test – The same as cytotoxic testing but instead of manual microscopic observation, the reaction of white blood cells to food allergens is analyzed by a machine (computer).
Provocation testing – This test involves dropping a liquid of a diluted allergen under the patient’s tongue. The symptoms are then observed and analyzed.
IgG antibody testing – This is a test to see if your blood has IgG antibodies to an allergen. The allergen itself may not trigger an allergic reaction in you but this test merely shows that you have been subjected to that potential allergen.
Vega testing or Electrodermal testing – Electrodes are used in this test to observe the changes in electric current in the body as the patient is exposed to a possible allergen.
Applied kinesiology – This is a test that measures muscle strength pre and post exposure to a potential allergen. Some medical professionals believe that a patient subjected to allergens often suffer from weakened muscles.
Scott Paglia is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Bellingham, WA and provides master level pulse diagnosis, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Whatcom County, WA.