Blood Allergy Testing

Determining when an IgE blood test is the best option.

Dr. Chacko on the Top Doctors cover of Atlanta Magazine
Dr. Chacko Featured on the Cover of Atlanta’s Top Doctor Magazine

Understanding Blood Allergy Testing for Food Allergies

At some point in their lives, a vast number of adults and children will find themselves impacted by food allergies. For many people, the allergic reaction will be minimal and cause only minor discomfort. However, food allergies do have the potential to be extremely aggravating and in some cases, even life-threatening.

Blood Allergy Testing

In order to understand, accurately diagnose and treat this issue, food allergy testing is an important component of the process. Blood allergy testing is one option available to Atlanta allergy sufferers.

Blood Allergy Testing Process

There are a number of different blood tests to discover allergies. The most common test is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) which measures for antibodies related to specific allergens. Your body releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) to protect itself against a perceived threat. These antibodies cause chemicals to be released that bring on allergy symptoms like itching, a runny nose, sneezing and swelling.

For a blood allergy test, a blood sample will be taken, most commonly from the arm, and then sent to a lab for analysis. This sample can be used to test for a variety of allergens.

Allergy Blood Test – Specific IgE vs. Total IgE Testing

After a consultation, your allergy doctor may recommend either total IgE testing or specific IgE testing. Total IgE testing takes a measurement of the overall level of antibodies to determine if you have an allergy. While this type of allergy blood test is a good way to confirm a patient has an allergy, it won’t specify the precise cause. In contrast, specific IgE testing identifies responses to individual allergens. A test could focus on a specific type of food, or a mix of common foods that typically affect patients.

Allergy blood tests are performed in combination with medical history analysis and a discussion about previous symptoms. In most cases, an allergist will expect a patient’s symptoms to suggest a particular allergy before administering a blood test. The allergy blood test can then be performed to confirm or deny the existence of an allergy. A positive result will be used to develop an appropriate treatment plan, whereas a negative result may require further investigation into the causes of your symptoms.

What Are the Benefits of Blood Allergy Testing?

While blood allergy testing is less common than skin prick testing, it does have certain benefits.

  • A blood test can be conducted while taking medication, whereas skin tests may require you to stop meds such as steroids and antihistamines for a few days.
  • Patients with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis may not be able to tolerate a skin test.
  • Blood tests offer a safer alternative if you have severe reactions to allergens or anaphylaxis.
  • Patients with heart conditions or asthma may require a blood test.

Are There Any Side Effects to an Allergy Blood Test?

There are no significant side effects associated with an allergy blood test. Just as when an individual has blood drawn for any other medical purpose, there could be some minor discomfort for a short period. Patients may experience slight bruising or swelling at the area where the needle is inserted, but this discomfort will soon pass. In the unlikely event you start to feel lightheaded, nauseous or dizzy, inform your allergist immediately.

Common Blood Allergy Testing Questions

My child is afraid of needles. Is a blood allergy test the right option?

Skin prick tests require multiple needles, so a blood test may actually be the preferred choice. You can discuss the right option during a consultation with your allergist.

Are blood allergy testing results immediate?

No. Blood test samples must be sent to a medical laboratory for testing. Unlike the skin prick test, you will need to wait for the results.

Are blood allergy tests accurate?

The test will discover antibodies related to allergens. While this is indeed a common sign of an allergy, it is not conclusive proof. Your allergist will consider your symptoms and other factors, along with the results of the test, to determine a food allergy treatment.

Interested in Blood Allergy Testing?

Contact us today to make an appointment for an allergy test. Chacko Food Allergy Treatment Center can discuss the appropriate testing, and an ongoing solution to your allergies. The food allergy treatment center is located in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Canton, Cumming, Druid Hills, Duluth and Johns Creek. Call for an appointment at 678-668-4688.

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