Allergies have not been given much importance in the past few years. The incidence of allergic disorders have gone up since then.
Till now medication used to be prescribed for allergies, and the patient used to be better as long as the course of medication was on, only to return when symptoms of allergies recurred after the course was over. The patients were explained that there was no solution for allergies but to continue with the medication and avoid dust, etc. Of late the importance of identifying and controlling allergens has been emphasized.
Why is diagnosis and treatment of allergic disorders so important?
- Allergies have found to be a major cause of morbidity and absence from work
- They compromise the Quality of Living due to their uncomfortable symptoms
- Activities are restricted due to allergic disorders, such as trekking in grasslands, etc.
- Job changes are required due to severe allergies
- Allergies can cause life-threatening disorders like Anaphylaxis!
The Allergic March: Allergies should be treated from early childhood.
- It starts with skin rashes and atopic dermatitis at an early age.
- If not treated properly it leads to sneezing which in turn leads to
- Asthma and other disorders like
- allergic conjunctivitis and
- Eosinophilic esophagitis
How to diagnose allergies?
Symptoms like sneezing, itching, runny nose, skin rashes etc. Worse after contact with things which are known to cause allergy. Even stomach upset and digestive disorders could be due to allergies.
Various tests are available for diagnosis of allergies
- Total IgE test: This is done fairly commonly but is not required. In countries with infection such as worm infestation this would be high. It does not predict the intensity of allergy
- RAST: It is not very reliable. various labs offering diagnostic tests on these basis should be approached with caution.
- Immunocap: this is the most reliable blood test for allergies in patients where skin prick testing is not possible
- Skin prick test This is the gold standard for allergy testing . It is simple, safe and very efficient in diagnosing allergies and prescribing immunotherapy.
- Oral food challenge test
- Provocation tests such as Asthma and nasal challenge test
How is the skin prick test done for allergies?
- Drops are placed according to serial number at 3 cm distance on the skin
- Pricking is done through the drops through the topmost layer of the skin. It is very light, painless and there is absolutely no bleeding and scarring
- After 20 minutes the reading is done. In case of allergies there will be a bump at the site of pricking. The bigger the bump, more severe the allergies.
- It is extremely safe, comfortable and can be done on an outpatient basis in routine hospital set up
- There are absolutely minimal risks and complications for the procedure
Allergy tests can be done for everybody starting from 2 years of age
Allergy tests should not be done in
- Patients known to have high risk of anaphylactic shock.
- Severe rashes or skin disorders-there would be no place on the skin
- Acute fever
- Immunocompromised patients
- Patients with dermographism-the interpretation of the result needs some special skills
Consult your allergy specialist in case you need to get an allergy test done.
Allergy tests are good markers for initiation of allergen immunotherapy.