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The Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center Pollen and Mold Counter will return February 15, 2018.

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Allergy Testing and Treatment – Overview

Simply put, allergies are the immune system overreacting to certain stimuli — like pollen — that other people don’t react to at all.

In order to determine the best path for treatment, we must work together to determine specifically what is causing your allergic reactions.  To do this, a number of tests may be administered.  These tests may include:

  • Percutaneous Testing
  • Intradermal Testing
  • Patch Testing

Once we’ve determined your specific allergies, we can again work toward the best possible treatment paths, which often differ from adults to children, and which are highly customized just for you.

There are many options for treating allergies.  Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, is just one of those options.

If you chose immunotherapy, understand that the most essential active ingredients in are patience and commitment— allergy shots take a while to work. While you will likely notice a change for the better in four to six months, you should allow a year of treatment to see real improvements. And it’s worth the wait: the five-year success rate for allergy shots is around 85 percent!

When you visit our office for an evaluation, there are a number of paths that may be taken to make your particular diagnosis.  One or more of the following tests may be performed, so it’s good to understand each of them.

Percutaneous Testing

Using no needles, allergens are applied that penetrate only the top layer of skin. You will feel only a slight prick or scraping of the skin when the test is applied.

Common surface areas that are used to apply the testing include the back and the arm.  If a reaction is to take place, it is usually seen within 15 minutes.

Intradermal Testing (Video #2 to come later)

Intradermal testing involves the injection of a tiny amount of allergen just under the skin on the outside of your upper arm.  Because a needle is used, some patients fear that this test will cause pain. It is important to note that the discomfort in this test is less than when you receive a typical vaccination.  And once again, if a reaction is to take place, it is usually seen within 15 minutes.

Intradermal testing has the advantage of allowing the physician to test a large number of allergens at the same time.

Patch Testing

Allergic reaction to chemicals that contact your skin may be diagnosed using a patch test. This type of test is often conducted if it’s believed your allergies may be occupational-related, exposure to chemicals or metals that are causing your reaction or discomfort.  Because the potential reaction to the contact allergens is not immediate, like in other tests, the patches must remain in place for two days prior to any reaction being able to be read.  You may feel a slight itching in this time period and will need to refrain from showering, sweating or swimming in that time period as well.

Treatment Options for Adults

  • Medication
  • Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)
  • Specialist Care
  • Sublingual Immunotherapy

Treatment Options for Children

  • Avoidance of allergens or environmental controls
  • Medications
  • Allergen-specific immunotherapy (subcutaneous injection or sublingual tablet)