When to Get an Allergy Blood Test
You probably know that there are a couple of different tests that can be used to diagnose allergies. One of the most common types is a skin prick test; however, sometimes blood testing is the best strategy. So, when might you need a blood test to diagnose allergies?
- If you have certain skin conditions such as dermatitis or severe eczema, which can affect the results of the test
- If you are taking certain medications such as antidepressants or antihistamines
- If you are prone to severe allergic reactions (known as anaphylaxis), which can be dangerous and even life-threatening
Reasons for Allergy Blood Testing
If you think your symptoms are due to allergies this may have brought you into an allergist’s office; however, not everyone recognizes the signs and symptoms of allergies. It may be a good idea to undergo an allergy blood test (also referred to as an allergen-specific IgE antibody test) if you are dealing with any of these symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Chest tightness
- Nasal congestion
- Sneezing and coughing
- Tingling or itchy mouth
- Abdominal pain
If you are dealing with allergies and you’re not sure what’s causing your symptoms then allergy testing may be the best option for you. Turn to an allergist to learn more about allergy testing and to get your allergy symptoms under control.
Protect Yourself from Outdoor Air Pollution
Ozone and particle pollution are two of the worst things for someone with allergies. If you aren’t sure what your outdoor allergy triggers are, an allergist can perform the proper tests to identify triggers. It’s important to know what aggravates your asthma or allergies so you can avoid them. Here are some helpful tips for how to protect yourself:
- Ozone peaks between 2 pm-7 pm, so plan your outdoor activities for either later in the evening or first thing in the morning. Particle pollution (aka smoke or dust) is worse in the morning and the evening when people are returning home from work.
- If you plan to run or workout outside, you may want to change up the type of activity or at least lessen the intensity on days where air quality is bad (or simply move your workout indoors).
- If you have been prescribed a rescue inhaler, make sure to bring it with you just in case you might need it.
- Keep all windows closed, whether you’re sitting at home or in your car (opt for the AC, instead).
Unfortunately, if you step outside on a day where the air quality is poor you could track smoke and other pollutants on your clothes and into your home. This can also exacerbate your symptoms and make being in your house just as rough as being outdoors. Combine this with cleaning sprays and chemicals, perfumes, and other scents and you may be dealing with a pretty brutal bout of allergy symptoms. To reduce allergens and improve air quality in your home, here’s what you should do:
- Remove your clothes immediately when you come inside (make sure to toss clothes directly in the washer)
- Keep pets out of the bedroom
- Remove candles and other scented items from your home
- Wash your hair at night before going to bed to remove trapped pollen
- Wash bedding at least once a week in hot water
- Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to help remove bacteria and germs from the air
- Vacuum at least once a week and make sure to disinfect and dust surfaces daily
Your Immune System is in Overdrive
When you have allergies, your body is reacting to an otherwise harmless substance as if it were dangerous. As a result, your body releases histamine to “fight” the substance, which can lead to inflammation and cause you to feel tired. If you regularly deal with a stuffy nose and other allergy symptoms, particularly at night, your exhaustion could only be made worse by a night (or more) of bad sleep.
Know What Meds to Take
We know that many people dealing with severe allergies are simply looking for relief, and fast! Of course, the medication you may be reaching for could actually make your fatigue worse. It’s important to know what you’re taking before you take it. For example, antihistamines are often notorious for making people sleepy. If you need to take an antihistamine, make sure to grab a non-drowsy one from your local drugstore. If in doubt, ask the pharmacist!
Know Your Triggers
To avoid being exposed to the allergen in the first place, it’s first important to know what you’re allergic to. If you don’t know already, then it’s time to turn to an allergist who can perform the appropriate allergy testing. By knowing which allergens trigger your symptoms you have better luck avoiding them.
You should also talk with your allergist about allergy medications that could improve your symptoms as well as whether you could benefit from allergy shots. If you’re looking for more natural remedies, you may want to try a Neti pot, which can help to flush out bacteria and allergens in the nasal passages to improve sinus symptoms.
If you are losing the battle with allergy fatigue, it’s time to turn to an allergy specialist who can map out the ideal treatment plan and provide you with the right medications to help you start feeling better fast.
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Trouble breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Eye irritation
If you are ever experiencing symptoms of asthma, you must see an asthma specialist who can diagnose your condition and provide you with immediate treatment. Since asthma attacks can be life-threatening, you mustn’t ignore minor symptoms, as they can often get worse over time if left untreated. If you are experiencing wheezing, shortness of breath, or a persistent cough while at work, it’s important to discuss these symptoms with a qualified specialist.
As with an allergic reaction, it’s important to avoid the offending substances that could be causing your symptoms. Along with avoidance, your doctor will also provide you with the medication that will help to reduce airway inflammation along with medication that should only be used if you notice the symptoms of an asthma attack flaring up. You will often be prescribed a long-term control medication such as inhaled steroids, as well as a fasting-acting, quick-relief medication such as an Albuterol inhaler.
Yes, getting allergy shots is a process, but for many people getting immunotherapy can be life-changing and provide long-term relief. People who suffer from severe allergies that alter their quality of life or may even have dangerous allergic reactions can see a major difference after getting allergy shots.
Better yet, this isn’t just an option for adults. Children, teens, and young adults can also be great candidates for allergy shots. If you find that you can’t often enjoy the things you loved because of your allergies, allergy shots may be right for you.
Just as some vaccines work by injecting a weakened form of a virus into the body to stimulate the immune system to produce the appropriate antibodies, allergy shots work by exposing the body to a very small amount of the allergen. As your treatment progresses, the amount of allergen that is injected into the body will increase, but so too will your immunity to it. Some people see such dramatic results after allergy shots that they don’t even need medicine anymore (or, at the very least, don’t have to rely on medicine nearly as much).
Of course, since allergy shots do introduce the body to the allergen, reactions can occur. It’s important to talk with your allergist about possible reactions that could happen and how to handle them if they happen.
Most people assume that allergy shots are only ideal for those dealing with seasonal allergies, but this simply isn’t true. Immunotherapy can also be a great option for people dealing with year-long allergies, indoor allergies (e.g. pet dander; mold), and insect bites and stings. Of course, it’s important to note that allergy shots are not effective for food allergies (right now the best option is to avoid the food altogether).
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