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Life Without Allergies
Get the Facts
How Do You Know You Have Allergies?Rapid, simple and relatively safe, skin tests can be very helpful in identifying the specific cause of allergies.
During an allergy skin test, your skin is exposed to allergy-causing substances, or allergens, and is observed for signs of an allergic reaction. Also called a scratch test, this helps identify the trigger for the allergic reaction.
To conduct the test, a small amount of the suspected allergy-provoking substance is placed on the skin. The skin is then gently scratched through the small drop with a special sterile needle. If the skin reddens or swells, the test is considered positive and an allergic reaction to that substance is considered probable.
In some extremely allergic patients who have especially severe reactions, skin testing can't be conducted. For these patients, your doctor may use special blood tests to diagnose the allergy.
Treatment for Allergies
From dust mites to mold, immunotherapy may greatly reduce your sensitivity to airborne allergens.
Patients begin by getting an allergy shot once or twice a week, continuing for about six months. Your allergist will gradually increase the concentration of allergen extract in your injections until a level of tolerance is reached.
The success rate varies from person to person, so depending on your response to therapy, your allergist may decide to vary the frequency of your shots. Immunotherapy may continue for three to five years, at which time your allergist will help you decide if it is necessary to continue the treatment.
For best results, continue to avoid exposure to your allergens as much as possible.