There are several ways to test for allergy depending upon what information is needed to explain why a person reacts strongly to one thing and not another.
In addition to the history, several techniques help uncover which triggers cause your body to overreact.
1. Inhalant Allergy: am I reacting to pollens, pets, dust or mold?
The accurate, standardized test we most often use is called Skin Endpoint Titration. In this type of testing a tiny amount of antigen (for example alder pollen) is injected into the upper layer of the skin to form a bubble. After 10 minutes, the bubble is measured to see if growth has occurred and how much. Various strengths of antigen are used to determine the precise level of sensitivity for each extract. This intradermal testing is accurate and standardized and more precisely helps establish the safest and most effective starting dose for desensitization.
2. Food Allergy/Sensitivity: are foods provoking my allergy symptoms and are the reactions immediate or delayed?
- Puncture testing: placing tiny doses of food allergy extracts in the top millimeter of the skin with a sterile puncturing device, this technique provides information regarding immediate, IgE reactions which are more likely to be brisk, occasionally life-threatening and more permanent.
- Blood Testing: IgG and IgA antibody elevations provide clues to the presence of slow or delayed reactions to foods. Because of significant false positive and false negative results, further confirming assessments such as elimination diets are required to draw conclusions.
- Elimination Diets: often considered the gold standard for evaluating food allergy, the suspected foods are eliminated for several days prior to being carefully reintroduced.
- Provocation/Neutralization: this is a less commonly performed skin test that can draw out subtle reactions which are often missed with typical prick, scratch, intradermal or puncture testing.
3. Miscellaneous: am I allergic to unusual triggers?
Hormones, chemicals, latex, medications, dental materials, and metals can be tested with skin endpoint titration, provocation neutralization, patch testing or blood antibody levels.