It’s Simple: Diagnosing Allergies is a Complicated Business
Diagnosing an allergy is more complex than administering a skin prick test or taking a blood sample and sending a patient away with a prescription slip. Many factors are involved in accurately diagnosing and preparing an effective treatment plan.
More than 40 million Americans have allergies or asthma. Board certified allergists receive specialized training that allows them to expertly:
Administer allergy testing
Detect the source of your suffering
Diagnose your condition accurately
Develop a personalized plan to alleviate your symptoms
Provide you with care that produces optimal results
The process of diagnosing allergies includes analyzing your medical history and selecting the right allergy tests for you. Allergists use their training to help patients achieve wellness, be active during the day, and rest at night.
When diagnosing allergic disease, an individual’s medical history is as important as the results of an allergy test. The medical history is the critical link between allergy test results and the allergy.
Allergy skin testing is the gold standard and is used along with the medical history to establish a diagnosis. Both blood and skin allergy tests can detect a patient’s sensitivity to common inhalants like pollen and dust mites or to medicines, certain foods, latex, venom, or other substances. Generally skin testing is the most accurate and preferred method used by trained allergists. Allergy blood tests may be ordered in certain specific situations, such as severe skin rashes, or if it is impossible to stop a medication that interferes with the interpretation of the skin test.
If the results of skin and blood allergy tests are not clear or are inconsistent with the patient’s medical history, allergists rely on their training and experience along with a patient’s medical history and a physical examination—not test results—to make the final diagnosis.
Allergy tests are valuable because they give accurate and reliable results that confirm information gathered in the medical history.
Choosing the right test for each and every patient is a critical part of the diagnostic process. Frequently this is not a simple task because people are often sensitized to many allergens, but are only clinically allergic to one or more specific items. Allergists are trained to select tests that identify the particular allergen. This enables them to then develop the optimal therapy for each patient.
Board-certified allergists recognize that not all allergy tests are alike. They regularly review the scientific literature to learn which testing systems work best.
Allergy tests should not be ordered randomly. They are chosen based on symptoms, environmental and occupational exposures, age, and even hobbies. All results are then interpreted in the context of the patient’s medical history.