Allergy Testing (Skin Testing) – This is the main and most reliable testing for the presence of allergies. In this test a panel of airborne allergens (pollens, molds, animal danders, dust, and other environmental allergens) or food allergens is placed on the back. This is done with a plastic device that pricks the skin. No blood is drawn and the skin is not broken. This process takes only seconds. The skin is then allowed to rest for 15 minutes to allow the allergies to show up. There may be some itching and redness but this will treated before you leave. You will know what you are allergic to before you leave. Knowing what you are allergic to may allow you to avoid it or help us choose medications to better treat you. Also, allergy testing information is used to formulate allergy shots. Your doctor will discuss the findings and together you will formulate a plan to get you feeling better!
Intradermal Skin Testing – If the skin testing is negative you may benefit from intradermal testing in which a small amount of allergen is injected just below the surface of the skin. Again there is a 15 minute waiting period after which the test is read. This test involves a smaller panel of allergens and helps definitively answer the allergy question in equivocal cases. Intradermal testing is important in the diagnosis of some medication allergies also.
Patch Testing – Patch testing tests for a different kind of allergy than regular skin testing. In patch testing a panel of potential allergens is taped to your back and left in place for 48 hours. At that time the tape and test are removed. The test is typically read at 48 and 96 hours. This test looks for contact sensitivity to metals, solvents and other things.
Lung Function Testing (spirometry) – This testing allows us to compare your lung function to what a “normal” person of your age, gender and height would be expected to do. This test is used to diagnose and manage asthma as well as bronchitis, chronic cough, emphysema and other lung conditions. The test involves blowing into a device attached to a computer that records your effort. It is quick and painless.
Fiberoptic Rhinolaryngoscopy – This test uses a rhinolaryngoscope to look into the nose at the sinuses and down the back of the throat. The device uses a small diameter (3 millimeter) flexible camera. The nose is sprayed with an anesthetic so that the test is not painful but as you might guess, the sensation can be odd.
Punch Biopsy – This test collects a small amount of skin to send to the pathologist to assist in the diagnosis of difficult rashes. The area to be biopsied is anesthetized and a 3 millimeter round area of skin is removed. There tends to be little, if any, scarring and the procedure is not painful after the skin is anesthetized.
Medication and Food Challenges – These are procedures undertaken to discover if you truly have an allergy to a substance in question versus just a sensitivity or no sensitivity at all. In this procedure you would simply eat or take a small amount of the food or medication in question under the observation of the physician so that if you were to react, immediate treatment could be begun.These procedures are typically done when the allergy testing is equivocal or negative but there is a continued concern for potential for true allergic sensitivity.