Some conditions are illnesses that bring about uncomfortable, or even dangerous systems, that remain with a person until they are treated. Other conditions, however, are lifelong, and while there is no cure, they can be managed. Allergies are one of these lifelong conditions, while not always life-threatening, it can important to get tested to find out the best way to manage the condition.
An allergy is, in some ways, an “overreaction” by the immune system to a specific substance. Under normal circumstances, if we experience itching, swelling, hives, or other physical reactions, this is because a contaminant has been introduced to our body, and the body responds by fighting it and diverting immunity systems to a specific area.
An allergy, however, triggers these extreme immunity reactions even if no conventionally dangerous or toxic substances have entered the system. When a person has an allergy that means that a specific, hyper-response to a particular substance or substances is present, and triggered. This is why some people can own pets while others, who have an allergic reaction to the dander of fur from dogs or cats, have a severe negative reaction.
How Do You Get Allergies?
An allergy isn’t a disease, so if you love pets and own them, you’re not going to develop an allergy to pets just by near someone who does have this allergy. Most allergies are hereditary, in that if one or both parents are allergic, the child is likely to develop allergies as well.
However, it’s important to note that it’s the potential for allergies that transmits, not a specific allergy itself. So someone who is allergic to pets may have a child is not allergic to pets, but is allergic to pollen, or peanut butter. It’s also important to note that allergies do not have to manifest during childhood. Someone who had no allergies to pollen as a child can later develop that allergy as an adult. It can sometimes take years or even decades for the onset of allergic reactions to show.
What Is Environmental Allergy Testing?
The best way to manage an allergy is to know exactly what substance—or allergen—is causing the allergic reaction. For example, if someone shows allergic reactions during the spring in pollen season, you can reasonably guess that pollens are the allergen, but you don’t know which specific ones on the air are responsible. Environmental allergy testing can narrow down the specific allergens by testing for them in three ways:
Some allergens only show a reaction once ingested. In such cases, an elimination diet may be prescribed by a doctor. With this method, certain foods will be slowly removed from a diet to watch for reactions. If allergic reactions subside, some of these foods are reintroduced to determine which food and which ingredients are the allergen.
Sometimes for safety reasons, a person can’t be exposed to allergens, so instead, a blood sample is taken, and that blood sample is exposed to different allergens to watch for the immune response that is the telltale allergic reaction.
The most common type of allergy testing involves exposing the skin to small samples of different possible allergens and observing the area for reactions. In some cases, the allergens may be injected just under the skin. If there are reactions, they will usually occur within 30 minutes of testing, though some additional swelling may follow in the hours after the test.
Seeking Proper Treatment
Environmental allergy testing is a crucial first step in managing allergies. If you have allergies, and you’d like to find out more about how to address them, talk to a medical specialist, and get your allergy testing to find out what you’re reacting to.