Allergies Undiagnosed Allergies

An allergy is the immune system’s abnormal response to a particular substance, known as an allergen. People with allergies are sensitive to specific substances that other people are not. Some of the most common types of allergens include:

  • foods
  • insect bites
  • medicines
  • mold spores
  • pets
  • plant pollens
  • substances like latex or metal.

The most commonly reported allergy is to the antibiotic penicillin.

Common Allergy Symptoms

Allergy symptoms range from mild to severe. Mild allergy symptoms include:

  • burning or dry eyes
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • skin irritation.

Mild allergies can be treated with over-the-counter medications recommended by your doctor. Other, more serious allergies may require prescription medication.

Some foods, like peanut butter or shellfish, cause very serious allergy symptoms. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that is life-threatening, and can occur in response to any type of allergen. Typically though, pollens and inhaled allergens very rarely cause anaphylactic shock.

How to Treat Allergy Symptoms

If you believe you may have allergies, talk to your doctor or allergist about your specific symptoms. Your doctor will likely have you take a skin or blood test for determining undiagnosed allergies, then recommend certain medications like antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids or others. Common over-the-counter medications include:

  • Benadryl
  • Claritin
  • Zyrtec.

Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe nasal spray or eyedrops.

How Allergies are Diagnosed

Allergies can be diagnosed with a blood or a skin test. Although skin tests are more common, a blood test may be used if a patient has certain skin conditions or if they are taking medications, such as antihistamines, that interfere with a skin test. Skin tests are preferred in most cases, because they are more accurate and less expensive.

Three types of skin tests are used to diagnose allergies:

  • Intradermal Test: A small amount of an allergen is injected under the skin at your doctor’s office, much like a test for tuberculosis.
  • Patch Test: An allergen is applied to a patch which is then placed against the skin. A patient wears the patch for about 48 hours to determine if they have an allergic reaction. If a patient has an allergy, the patch site will feel irritated and may itch.
  • Scratch test: With a scratch test, your doctor or allergist will mark your skin to identify where specific allergens will be tested. Then your doctor or nurse will place a drop of extract for each substance on your skin and use a pricking device to puncture and expose the allergen to the very top layer of your skin. A scratch test may also be called an allergy puncture test or a prick test.

The Importance of Diagnosing Allergies

Testing for allergies is important in developing a health treatment plan and avoiding unfavorable reactions to specific triggers. If you have a certain allergy, you may have others as well. An allergy test will determine undiagnosed allergies and help you know what you need to do to stay healthy.

Children and Food Allergies

Children commonly outgrow allergies to:

  • eggs
  • milk
  • soy
  • wheat.

Children less commonly outgrow allergies to fish, shellfish, nuts and peanuts. Children with less severe reactions to allergens are more likely to outgrow a food allergy.

Resources

The HealthCentral Network, Inc. (n.d.). Anaphylaxis. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from the Myallergeynetwork.com Web site: http://www.healthcentral.com/allergy/symptoms-2225-108.html.

WebMD (2009). Allergies: Skin testing for allergies. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from the WebMD Web site: http://www.webmd.com/allergies/skin-testing.

WebMD (2009). Allergies: Blood testing for allergies. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from the WebMD Web site: http://www.webmd.com/allergies/blood-testing.