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What Is It Like to Get an Allergy Test?

Have you ever thought about getting an allergy test? Have you ever wondered if you need an allergy test? Maybe you’ve wondered to yourself, ‘How do I know if I have allergies?’ That’s where a test comes in handy!

Some people think that all allergy symptoms appear the same way, but the reality is that allergy symptoms present in several different ways, including:

  • runny nose
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • sneezing
  • hives or rashes
  • acid reflux
  • tummy pain or feeling sick
  • anaphylactic shock (throat closing)
  • and MORE!

Background

Note: Skin reaction to Witch Hazel.

I lived most of my life thinking I wasn’t allergic to anything. It wasn’t until my early twenties I had a reaction to a skincare product that caused a major rash all over my face. About a year after that, I started working at an ENT office and began learning more about the concept of allergies. I learned about the different ways that allergens can affect your body, how primary allergens change throughout the seasons, and how there’s more to allergies than just pollen, bees, and peanuts. I started to realize that allergies and even allergic reactions weren’t just rashes and not being able to breathe, and maybe it was even possible that I had other allergies of my own. I wanted to understand what those allergies might be and exactly what that meant for me, so I decided to get an allergy test.

Test Day

The testing process was simple and efficient. I arrived at my appointment at our Alpharetta location. I checked-in easily and was directed where to go by a friendly front desk staff member.

Once in the office, Jennifer Peavy, one of our medical assistants, went over all the details with me. She first asked questions about the medications I’ve been taking. The allergy department encourages you to be off antihistamines and beta blockers for at least 7 days prior to testing, as these medications can affect your results and potential use of epinephrine if you were to have a severe reaction. Jennifer then explained what would happen during the test and what allergens they were testing for.

Before I knew it, it was time to prep and test! Jennifer cleaned both of my arms well with alcohol and drew a number on 6 sections with a marker. Each section would be where a panel (also known on the allergy sheet as a “battery”) would be going. Each panel injects 10 different allergens under the first layer of your skin. Once those allergens had been injected, I was instructed to sit there for 15 minutes and asked to try not to scratch or move my arms around too much. The waiting process went quickly, but I did notice some parts of my arms itching. After the 15 minutes was up, Jennifer came over with a utensil she said would be used for measuring the diameter of the red dot that was left on my arm from the injections. The size would determine a number that she placed on the sheet. It’s important to note that whether you get a 1, a 10, or anything in between you are considered allergic to that allergen. The number can help patients understand the severity.

My results from the test:

Turns out I’m allergic to 44 of the 60 allergens we test for which are all common southeast allergens found in Georgia and surrounding areas. I learned that some of the worst ones for me are food-related allergies which explains the acid reflux and tummy aches I often get. I also learned I’m extremely allergic to red cedar and fairly allergic to willow and cottonwood. It’s likely that when I start to sneeze a lot or feel my throat getting itchy, these allergens are nearby. 

I think it’s important to mention that getting an allergy test in a safe and clean facility with educated medical staff is so important. A very small amount of these allergens is injected into your skin. Most people don’t have severe reactions that require epinephrine to be administered, but there is always some nearby and available in case of emergencies. Plus, the specialist administering the test will rub your arms down with Benadryl cream to help with any itching or irritation after the test.

Treatment Plans

Before ending my visit, I was given a full breakdown of the treatment options and encouraged to sign up for allergy immunotherapy. If you’d like to learn more about what immunotherapy is and how it works, check out our previous blog.

The really great thing about allergy treatment plans at the ENT Institute is that it’s very easy for you to set up regular appointments that work for your schedule. There are two options – you can get subcutaneous or sublingual immunotherapy, which means you can do injections into the skin or drops under the tongue. The injections typically work faster, but patients must come into the office. The drops take a bit longer to show progress, but patients can take them home. It’s nice to have both options available to choose what works best for you!

Conclusion

I recommend everyone get an allergy test. It will help you in the long run to better understand your body, why you may be feeling a certain way, and how to best take care of yourself. I am personally thinking about immunotherapy and am leaning towards the injections. I never want to let allergies rule my life, and immunotherapy is a great way to get real, lasting relief. As for my food allergies, the main treatment plan is to avoid eating them. I’m a bit sad about the strawberries and tomatoes, but I am excited to see how my body feels after cutting these items out of my diet!

Looking to make an appointment?

Feel better faster today with our allergy experts! To learn more about allergy testing or to schedule an appointment, call us at (770) 740-1860. We also offer convenient online scheduling.

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