Allergy Testing and Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy and allergy testing are crucial elements of managing allergies. Here is a synopsis of each:Allergy testing is used to pinpoint the precise allergens that cause an individual’s allergic reactions. There are two main ways to test for allergies:
- Skin Prick Test: A little amount of allergen extract is given to your skin during a skin prick test, typically on your forearm or back. The skin’s surface is then pricked or scratched with a tiny needle. Within 15 to 20 minutes, the test site will become tiny and itchy if you are allergic to the chemical.
- Blood Test (Specific IgE Test): Blood tests, like the ImmunoCAP or RAST, gauge your body’s concentration of particular IgE antibodies. Your immune system produces IgE antibodies in reaction to allergens. An allergy to a specific allergen is indicated by elevated levels of its specific IgE antibodies.
Immunotherapy, often known as allergy shots, is a method of treating allergies, especially in people who experience frequent or severe allergic reactions. It entails giving the immune system repeated injections of allergen extracts to desensitise it to particular allergens. This is how it goes:
- Allergen Selection: A unique allergen profile is developed based on the findings of allergy testing. The particular allergens that set off your allergic reactions are identified in this profile.
- Build-Up Phase: During the first stage of immunotherapy, you are injected with progressively higher dosages of the allergens. These dosages are consistently given, typically once or twice per week, and are increased gradually over several months.
- Once an effective dose has been attained, you move into the maintenance phase. You continue to get regular injections during this phase, but at a steady, increasing dose. Additionally, the time between injections can be increased, usually to every 2-4 weeks.
- Desensitisation: The immune system becomes less sensitive to the allergens with time, and you may experience less severe allergy symptoms or even none at all.
- Reduces the need for medication and allergic symptoms.
- Can in certain circumstances offer long-lasting relief even after the medication is ceased.
- May stop the progression of allergic rhinitis into asthma in children or the emergence of new allergies.
A trained allergist or immunologist should be present throughout allergy testing and immunotherapy, it is vital to remember. Using information from your allergy profile and medical history, they will decide if you are a good candidate for immunotherapy. If you have allergies, think about going over these possibilities with a medical expert to find the best course of action for your particular requirements.