For many years, skin testing was the only method available to confirm allergies. Now there is a relatively new blood test that can diagnose exactly what you are allergic to with more comfort and convenience. Both methods measure how sensitive you are to different allergens, and both methods are accurate; however, there are many advantages to the blood testing. It can be done on very young children, very old persons, and people with skin conditions that prohibit skin testing. You don’t have to stop using medications to have the test done, and you are not actually exposed to suspected allergens during the blood test, so the risk for allergic reaction is eliminated. There is research that shows the blood test is as effective in diagnosing allergies as the best available skin testing technique.
This latest testing technology is the ImmunoCAP Allergy Blood Test. ImmunoCAP is widely regarded as the standard for blood allergy testing. It has been cleared for use by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Leading institutions such as John Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic use ImmunoCAP TM for their patients. This testing can be done to check for allergies to inhaled pollen, animal dander, molds, and a variety of foods. Our lab is up-to-date with all of the necessary equipment for ImmunoCAP testing. We do the testing right in our own lab, so the results are available in a short time.
HOW DOES THE BLOOD TEST DETERMINE WHAT YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO?
Allergy blood testing measures the amount of specific IgE antibodies in the blood. IgE (or Immunoglobulin E) floats through the bloodstream and is bound to cells in the nose, throat, and lungs. When allergens such as pollen, animal dander, and mold enter the body, the IgE plays a part in triggering the release of chemicals, like histamine, which cause runny nose, watery eyes, and other symptoms of an allergic reaction. The blood test measures the actual quantity of IgE you have for each allergen. One blood test can check for dozens of different allergens at one time.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I COME IN FOR THE BLOOD TEST?
Anyone with suspected allergies can be tested, but your doctor will make that determination after discussing your medical history, family history, and symptoms with you at your appointment. You do not need to stop taking any of your medications for this testing to be done. The nurse will then take a small blood sample at your visit. The tests are done in our own laboratory, and you can expect to have your results in 1 week. Once your doctor has the results, he can tailor your allergy treatment to a strategy appropriate for you.
ARE ALL BLOOD TESTS FOR ALLERGIES RELIABLE?
ImmunoCAP is the state-of-the-art system for measuring specific IgE antibodies. It has been found to outperform all other specific IgE tests in several independent studies. Although there are several systems for testing allergies, we feel ImmunoCAP is by far the superior test.