An allergy is an acquired, immunologically-related, specific hypersensitivity to foreign substances. An allergy arises after repeated contact with an allergy-causing substance and is based on a reaction of the body’s defense system. Pollen, food, or other substances that are introduced to the body, for example through inhalation or the skin, are foreign substances, which are also referred to as antigens or allergens.
The body forms specific antibodies against these substances. With a hereditary disposition and with renewed contact, an allergen can lead to an allergic reaction. When this occurs, a visit with an allergist in Elizabethtown KY is necessary. But what investigative possibilities of allergies exist?
Prick and intracutaneous testing
In the so-called “prick” test, a drop of the allergen extract is applied to the skin, and then the skin is briefly scratched with a needle. After 15 minutes the result can be read, determining the redness and wheal size. With an intracutaneous test, the allergen solution is introduced into the skin with a fine syringe. Again, after 15 minutes, the Allergist in Elizabethtown KY will determine if there is a reaction.
The allergist may suggest an epicutaneous test, which is also known as a “patch” test, where the substances to be tested are placed in small a patch for three days on the skin, and the result is read afterward. If there are small blisters and redness of the skin, the test is positive. Many doctors choose this type of testing because it is the least invasive.
Provocation and blood tests
Provocation tests are used for the safe detection or exclusion of allergy in combination with the skin above tests. They are carried out through the nose, the eyes, or the mouth and are considered to be the “most natural” type of allergy testing. The allergen is introduced as a nasal spray, inhalation or eye drops.
Blood tests examine the antibodies produced by the body (IgE antibodies) as an expression of allergy or immune cells involved in the allergic reaction. However, with any of the tests above, a specialist must be the one to administer and read the tests. For more information, contact the office or schedule an appointment to meet Dr. Steven Smith today.
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