How can I find out what allergies I may have?

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Every year around this time, my eyes start running more than Carl Lewis. and I sneeze like a hyperactive air compressor. I’d really like to find out what’s causing my allergic reaction so I can make it STOP.

  1. Saturday Night (hay) Fever

    Disclaimer: We aren’t doctors. Any and all advice here is just that… advice. Consult with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

    If your allergies are seriously affecting your life, and popping a Claritin or Benadryl just isn’t cutting it, perhaps it’s time to consider finding out what is causing you so much distress so you can avoid it or treat it properly. The best way to go about doing this it to have your healthcare provider or an allergist perform an allergy test.

    No, you don’t need to study, bring a number two pencil, or fill in any little bubbles. However, courtesy of the US National Library of Medicine, here’s some suggested reading before you go talk to your doc.

    Types of testing

    To summarize, there are four basic kinds of allergy testing:

    • Skin tests: These are the most common. The most common of the skin tests is the prick test. (Stop laughing. I’ll wait. Done?) This test involves putting a small amount of a suspected allergen on the skin, then pricking the skin so the allergen can get under the skin’s surface. Results usually only take 15-20 minutes, and several allergens can be tested at the same time.
    • Elimination tests: Used to check for food allergies. Foods that may be causing symptoms are removed from the diet for several weeks and then slowly re-introduced one at a time while the person is watched for signs of an allergic reaction.
    • Blood tests: Exactly what you’d think. “Dr Acula” draws some blood and then drinks measures the amount of antibodies to a specific allergen.
    • Provocation testing: This is where you are exposed to a suspected allergen under controlled conditions and monitored for a response. Although this sounds like something you can do at home, please, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. It can provoke severe reactions. You’re unlikely to have epinephrine on hand in the event you go into anaphylaxis and your throat closes up.

    False results

    Keep in mind, allergy testing is not the end all, be all solution. False positives and negatives can be generated, and you may find what you’re allergic to isn’t something that can easily avoided. However, armed with knowledge, you can make choices that should be able to ease your suffering and get you thinking about investing in something other than tissue manufacturers.

    >> What are the most common allergies?

    Much more information about allergy testing can be found online. You can start with the article About allergy tests from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), and What is allergy testing? from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

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