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The allergy specialist uses a background of extensive training, experience and research to ask detailed questions and recognize important clues about the possible causes of the problem. This includes the timing and pattern of symptoms, the types of exposures and other related conditions, and the
Skin tests using purified solutions are used to identify the exact type of allergy and strength of allergy to indoor and outdoor allergens, foods, stinging insect venoms, and some medications. A positive allergy test shows as an itchy bump within
Patch tests are used to identify sensitivities to chemical contact allergens such as those in soaps, lotions, fragrances, metal, or rubber. Large patches that contain many contact allergens are applied to the back for 48 hours before being removed to see if there are any itchy bumps showing an allergic
Breathing tests are important to diagnose and monitor asthma. Spirometry measures whether there is any narrowing or blockage of air flow in the bronchial tubes. These measurements can be compared before and after a medicated breathing treatment, or before and after exercise, to give more information about asthma.
The level of eNO in the breath reflects the level of inflammation in the airways, and is useful to diagnose and monitor asthma and to help get the best control with the least amount of medication.
When there is no other way to be certain about an allergy, a challenge test is a way of carefully giving gradual amounts of an allergen under close medical supervision to see if there is any reaction. This is commonly done with food or drug allergies when test results
The allergy specialist also helps by spending time to provide information, education, and counseling. Detailed advice and explanations are provided regarding food allergies, indoor and outdoor allergies, reducing exposure, taking the right medicines at the right times, and learning how to prevent and manage reactions for the smoothest long-term control.
Some people get more frequent or more severe infections than other people, which can be caused by a weakness in the immune system. In some people this problem should be evaluated with blood tests (and sometimes skin tests) to check for antibody deficiency of poor function of immune cells. Treatment can correct antibody deficiency and reduce infections.
Immunotherapy is a way of giving slowly increasing amounts of the allergen into the system so the body will build up a resistance and will have much less reaction when exposed to the allergy. Subcutaneous immunotherapy (“allergy shots”) uses a small injection of the allergens every 1 to 4 weeks. A new method being introduced is to give the same allergen mixture using drops under the tongue (sublingual immunotherapy) on an everyday basis at home. Treatment is usually continued for at least 3 to 5 years. Venom immunotherapy is used to protect people from dangerous allergic reactions to insect stings.