An allergy results from the human immune system’s overreaction to a foreign protein substance, called “allergen”. Allergens can enter the body in any of the following ways: by being breathed into the lungs, through touch, injection, or ingestion (through food or fluid). Symptoms of allergies can range from chronic coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, fatigue and scratchy throat to more severe ones like hives, rashes, lowered blood pressure, difficulty in breathing, asthma attacks and even death.
There are two types of allergy testing: skin testing and blood testing.
Conventional Prick Testing
Conventional skin prick testing involves introducing allergens into the outermost layer of the skin. This procedure helps us understand what an individual is allergic to, enabling us to estimate how allergic they are to each allergen. Results are indicated by the development of raised bumps on the skin. Prick testing takes about 30 minutes to complete and is very well tolerated, even among young children.
RAST – Blood Testing
RAST (Radio-AllergoSorbent Testing) is a type of blood testing performed on the blood drawn from an individual suspected of having an allergy. Testing involves mixing the blood sample with different allergens to look for a chemical reaction, which is recorded and analysed by a computer. RAST is primarily used with children who cannot tolerate skin testing or with individuals being treated with certain medication, making skin testing unsafe for them.
What Are The Treatment Options?
Although prevention is better than cure, it may not always be possible to avoid the known allergen. In such cases, medication therapy, such as nasal steroids, decongestants, antihistamines etc. or immunotherapy in the form of allergy injections or sublingual (under the tongue) drops are the treatment options available.
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