Allergy Skin Testing
Why test for allergies?
Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment. Today allergy tests are more convenient and accurate than ever before. When combined with an examination and medical history by your doctor, allergy testing can identify the specific things that are causing your allergies.
Who can be tested for allergies?
Adults and children age 6 and above are routinely tested at ENT & Allergy Specialists. Children age 6 and below can often have a simple blood test done at the hospital, under the direction of your doctor.
How do allergy skin tests work?
A small amount of the suspected allergen is injected into the skin of the arm or forearm. Several suspected allergens known to be prevalent in the Ohio River valley are tested at the same time. If you are allergic to one of allergens, you will have some redness and a bump at the test spot. Our tests are designed to identify not just what you are allergic to, but also to quantify the strength of that allergen, to help guide you physician in designing a treatment protocol specific for you.
How long does it take to get skin test results?
Skin testing is fast. You will know the same day what you are allergic to, and avoidance measures will be discussed with you by our allergy specialists.
Does it hurt?
Skin tests have little or no pain. Positive reactions can be associated with some itching or burning at the test site, which does not last long.
Do I have to stop any of my medicines before testing?
Common allergy medicines, both over the counter and prescription can affect your skin testing. We require that you stop these medications ahead of time, usually from a few days to 1 week before testing. We will discuss which medicine you should discontinue before your testing.
Who should get a blood test instead of skin testing?
- Patients who cannot stop medications which interfere with allergy testing.
- Patients who suffer from certain skin conditions.
- For babies and very young children, a single blood test is usually better tolerated.
Are there risks or side effects from allergy testing?
Any procedure or test involves some risk. The most common reaction is itching, burning, redness or swelling at the test site. Extremely rarely, more serious reactions can occur. That is why skin tests are only done by specialized personnel at our offices, and testing only done at our offices when there is a physician is present and immediately available.
What allergies can allergy testing find?
Our allergy tests help find allergies to tree, pollen, weeds, grasses, dust mites, animals, and molds.
Allergy Sublingual Immunotherapy
What is SLIT?
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is the use of daily oral drops to treat allergies. Similar to allergy injections (SCIT), SLIT addresses underlying causes of allergies rather than simply treating symptoms. SLIT is given in gradually increasing doses & is an alternative to allergy injections.
How long has SLIT been in use?
It has been in use for over 60 years in various parts of the world.
How does SLIT work?
It works by allowing a person to be exposed to an antigen (allergy-causing substance) without having an allergic response (sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, etc.) over a period of time.
Is SLIT as effective as traditional allergy injections?
Recent studies show SLIT can be as effective as allergy injections. However, desired results while taking SLIT may take longer to achieve.
Is SLIT safe?
Recent studies show SLIT to be safe. Side effects may include mild irritation/itching of the mouth, lip & eye area as well as stomach upset, vomiting, & diarrhea.
What are the differences between SLIT & traditional allergy injections?
As mentioned above, SLIT involves oral drops daily. Traditional allergy injections include shot(s) weekly.
Who should not receive a SLIT dose?
- Patients who have oral ulcerations or have had recent oral surgery
- Patients who have a fever, chest cold, flu like symptoms, wheezing or shortness of breath
- Patients who have hives, a rash, or have had a recent injection from another doctor
- Patients who are asthmatic and whose symptoms are flaring.
Is SLIT covered by insurance?
SLIT is NOT currently covered by insurance or FDA approved.
What are the differences between SLIT Sublingual Immunotherapy and SCIT Subcutaneous Immunotherapy?
SLIT Sublingual Immunotherapy
- Oral drops
- May advance @ home; take 1st dose @ office
- Less time in allergy department
- NOT covered by insurance
- Route NOT FDA approved
SCIT Subcutaneous Immunotherapy
- Weekly (varies)
- Must advance in office; may home when on maintenance (after approximately 6 weeks)
- More time in allergy department more co pays (if required by individual insurance plan)
- Partially/completely covered by insurance
- FDA approved
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy, either in the form of traditional shots, or drops placed under the tongue, is designed to address the underlying causes of allergies rather than simply treating symptoms. Immunotherapy involves giving gradually increasing doses of the exact allergens that you are allergic to. This helps your body to build up immunity to what you are allergic to. This differs from other allergy medicines, such as antihistamines and nasal sprays, which do nothing to stop the underlying cause of your allergies.
Your doctor will design a serum specific to you, based on the results of your allergy testing.
How are injections done?
A small amount of your specific allergy serum is injected into the shoulder, typically once per week. Treatment is expected to last anywhere from 3-5 years.
Will I need shots forever?
Most patients are able to stop injections after 3-5 years altogether, once their symptoms have resolved. Occasionally, some patients need to continue shots longer, or continue them every other week or less.
What are the risks?
There is a small danger of anaphylactic shock (a severe allergic reaction) shortly after an injection.