Allergy Testing – Available at McKenzie Medical Center Main Clinic
Allergy skin tests are most reliable for diagnosing allergies to airborne substances, such as pollen, pet dander and dust mites. We test for a variety of air-borne substances (inhalants) to determine which allergen you are allergic and to the degree of sensitivity you have to each one. Skin tests are generally safe for adults and children of all ages. You must be able to lie still for 15-20 minutes while skin test is performed.
First, a nurse will examine the skin on your back and clean it with alcohol. A pen is used to mark the areas on the skin that will be tested. A tiny disposable pricking device with a small amount of allergen extract is entered into the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin). The skin prick is not a shot and does not cause bleeding. Skin tests have little or no pain. However, positive reactions cause annoying itching red bumps which look and feel like mosquito bites. The itching and bumps are typically gone in a few minutes or hours.
The health care provider closely watches the skin for swelling and redness or other signs of a reaction. Results are usually seen within 15-20 minutes. Several allergens are tested at the same time including year-round and seasonal allergens. Animal dander, mold, cockroach, silk, dust, and mite are year-round allergens. Pollens are seasonal allergens that follow an approximate pattern. Molds show a seasonal flare as well. Before you leave your doctor’s office, you’ll know the results of the skin prick test.
An allergy extract will be made especially for your needs. You will begin desensitization with a very weak dose of extract, which will be gradually strengthened to challenge your immune system. Your build-up period will involve a weekly injection over a period of 15-17 weeks. Skipping injections will only delay reaching your maintenance dose.
As the strength of your injection increases, we will be looking for the dose that best relieves your symptoms. It is important to pay attention to how you feel prior to your injection and 24 hours after your injection. Worsening of your symptoms like redness and/or swelling that lasts for 24 hours at the injection site should be reported before your next shot is given.
You should note improvement in your symptoms or general sense of well being as the build-up progresses. Each dose will hopefully give you better and longer lasting relief.
Your provider will see you after you have been on treatment for 3 months, 9 months, and then yearly for allergy treatment evaluation.
Exercise is most important. Twenty or thirty minutes of walking, jogging, swimming, or bike riding will not only help your heart and lungs, but your sinuses as well. Start slowly and build up your program. Consider indoor exercise during heavy pollen/mold periods. Pre-medicating before outdoor activities may help as well.
Before scheduling a skin test, bring your doctor a list of all of your prescription and over-the-counter medications. Some medications can suppress allergic reactions, preventing the skin testing from giving accurate results. Other medications may increase your risk of developing a severe allergic reaction during a test.
Your doctor will ask that you stop taking any steroids and/or any antihistamine for up to 2 weeks prior to allergy testing. You should not be allergy tested or receive allergy shots if you are on any beta-blockers for heart conditions, headaches, or glaucoma. You will need to contact your physician and discuss changing or discontinuing the beta-blocker in order to safely take allergy immunotherapy.
In certain circumstances, though, skin tests are not recommended. Blood tests can be useful for those who should not undergo skin tests. Blood tests are not done as often as skin tests because they can be less sensitive than skin tests and are more expensive.
You must schedule an appointment to have this test done. Call 731-352-7907 for more information or to make your appointment today!