Allergy tests are performed with the intention of discovering if a person is allergic and to detect what substances specific it is. The idea is that this person knows the substances that cause this reaction in order to avoid them and improve their quality of life.
Allergies are an increasingly common health problem in our environment. In fact, it is estimated that they affect around 40-50% of the population. Although many people always associate allergies with respiratory symptoms, such as sneezing, it is not so.
A person can be allergic to virtually anything. This is a situation in which our immune system overreacts to a substance., as if it were a danger, when in reality it is not.
The most common allergies are pollen or mites and they are those that are related to typical symptoms, such as rhinitis. However, there are many types of allergy. You can also be allergic to a food, such as nuts, a medicine, a plant, and so on.
Because of all this, Allergy tests have become a fundamental pillar of medical consultations, especially in pediatrics. Therefore, in this article we explain what they are and what these tests consist of.
Allergy tests: skin tests
Allergy tests are usually performed based on the patient's medical history.. That is, it is necessary for the patient to tell the doctor their suspicions about what substances seem to cause some kind of reaction.
Skin tests they consist of applying small samples of substances that usually cause allergy on the skin. They are called ‘allergens’. Then, these areas are observed for signs of an allergic reaction.
Here is the importance of what we tell the doctor, since we can guide you to try a specific substance or with another. For example, if you think that you are allergic to some type of metal, such as nickel, which is usually present on the buttons of the clothing, you will try it or similar metals.
To perform allergy tests using skin tests, It is also important to inform the doctor if we are taking any medication.. Normally, they are done in the nursing office or in the doctor's office.
First, a drop containing the allergen on which it is suspected is placed on the skin. Then, the skin is punctured slightly, so that this substance is introduced into it. Then, wait about 20-40 minutes.
After this time, the patient's skin is observed to see what has happened. It is considered that The result is positive when there is an elevation of the skin, redness and / or itching in that area. In that case, the patient would be allergic to that substance.
Many studies state that these allergy tests, which are also called prick test, are very effective. In fact, these studies comment that the predictive value of these tests is around 95%.
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Other allergy tests
Although skin tests are the most commonly used, other allergy tests can also be used, which have different advantages and disadvantages. For example, it can be diagnosed by a blood test.
The blood test can also be used in order to diagnose an allergy. This is because, in blood, you can look for antibodies that appear specifically in the allergy. However, blood antibody tests are usually nonspecific and do not inform which substance you are allergic to, but only the allergy condition.
However, it is a test that needs more time and is less sensitive than the skin. However, it is true that it's a less ‘risky’ option.
Normally, skin tests do not involve any complications and the risks are very scarce. But there are certain patients who have a very strong allergy because they are very sensitized and may suffer problems with this test.
For example, it is the case of those who have a difficult allergy episode when the tests are to be performed. A patient with asthma, acute hives or a very strong allergic rhinitis, it is preferable to avoid skin tests.
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Allergy tests are very useful today, since the incidence of this pathology does not stop increasing every year. Further, they carry hardly any risks and allow an adequate diagnosis to be made, Most of the time.