Allergies are caused by your immune system reacting to substances that may not bother another individual. Allergic reactions means your body’s immune system is detecting the substance as being hazardous to your body and as a result will produce what is called IgE antibodies that triggers a release of chemicals from the cells known as histamines. The histamines travel through the bloodstream.
Many people are allergic to common substances in the environment including pollen, dust, mold, dander from pets, insects, medications, and foods. In order to determine what particles a person is allergic to, tests need to be done by an allergy specialist known as an allergist. If you are concerned about allergies, you may be referred to an allergist for testing. Testing can be done by using blood samples. Testing can also be performed by pricking the skin with small amounts of different potential allergens. The body will produce a hive, red bumps on the skin, in the test location if an allergy is positive.
Before visiting an allergist, you will be requested to stop taking any allergy medications you may be using even if they are over the counter products. Using antihistamine drugs can produce incorrect test results. While working with the allergist, testing will be done using a variety of materials. If allergies are severe, you may experience allergic reactions for several days. If you anticipate this kind of serious reaction, it may be helpful to schedule a few days off of work if the reactions are uncomfortable. You will also want to give yourself several hours of time off to go through the testing process.
Dress comfortably for the visit. Since most skin tests will be done on your arms or on your back, wear a shirt with short sleeves. Bring any information you have about your allergy attacks including how often they occur and what kinds of problems you experience. This can help give the allergist some direction in testing.
You may want to bring a person with you to drive you home safely after the appointment. Being exposed to things you may be allergic to can cause you to feel unbalanced and even sick. Your allergist will provide you with a plan to start treating allergies which may include avoidance of foods or products or medication to prevent further allergic reactions.