Allergies are a common autoimmune response that are triggered when a seemingly harmless substance is ingested or comes into contact with the skin. There are a long list of different types of allergies, including food allergies, insect allergies and medication allergies. They can also be triggered by dust, smoke and animal dander.
What are common allergies?
Substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens. The most common allergens include:
- Grass and tree pollen, known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- Dust mites
- Animal dander, tiny flakes of skin or hair
- Food, particularly nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and dairy
- Insect bites and stings
- Medicines, including ibuprofen, aspirin and certain antibiotics
- Latex, used in some gloves and condoms
- Mold, these release small particles into the air
- Household chemicals, including detergents and hair dyes
Most of these allergens are generally harmless to people who are not allergic to them and normally produce no reaction or symptoms.
What are the symptoms of allergies?
The symptoms of allergies depend largely on the type of allergen involved and can impact the airways, sinuses, lungs, skin and digestive system. The symptoms per type of allergy are:
- Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, can cause:
- Itching of the nose, eyes or mouth
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Watery, red or swollen eyes (conjunctivitis)
- A food allergy can cause:
- Tingling in the mouth
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat
- An insect sting allergy can cause:
- A large area of swelling at sting site
- Itching or hives all over the body
- Cough, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath
- A drug allergy can cause:
- Itchy skin
- Facial swelling
- Atopic dermatitis, an allergic skin condition, can cause:
- Itchy skin
- Red, swollen skin
- Flakey or peeling skin
- Hives on the skin
- Some types of allergies can trigger a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening medical emergency. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Loss of consciousness
- A drop in blood pressure
- Severe shortness of breath
- Skin rash
- A rapid, weak pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
What is an allergy test?
An allergy test is a type of test that determines what substances are causing an allergic reaction. By exposing a patient to minute amounts of an allergen, allergists are able to verify which substances are triggering a reaction. These tests are accurate and provide invaluable information when developing an allergy treatment plan.
What types of allergy tests are there?
There are two main types of allergy tests:
Skin Tests — There are several kinds of skin tests for allergies. During the first type of skin test, known as a skin prick test, a drop of a suspected allergen is pricked on the surface of the skin. The test is performed on the back or the arm, most commonly the forearm. Many suspected allergens are tested simultaneously. Redness and swelling occur at the test spot if an allergic reaction occurs.
If the results from a skin prick test are unclear, and to rule out false-positives, a second type of test may be recommended. In this type, known as a skin injection test, a small amount of the suspected allergen is injected into the skin of the arm or forearm. Several suspected allergens are tested simultaneously.
Blood Tests — Blood tests can be used to determine allergies, although they can produce false-positives and are not considered as accurate as skin tests.
Where can I be treated for allergies?
Doc-Aid Urgent Care provides allergy testing and treatment. Call us to book an appointment for an allergy test, or schedule one online. Our office is open everyday of the week from 10 AM to 8 PM, including weekends!
If you are experiencing allergic symptoms but are not sure what is causing them, come to Doc-Aid Urgent Care for an allergy test. Our kind and compassionate professionals are experienced in performing allergy tests and can help you determine what is causing your reactions. Call us today to book an appointment. We serve patients locally in Laredo, Hebbronville, Zapata, Carrizo Springs, Cotulla, Eagle Pass, and throughout the state of Texas via our Telehealth option. Looking forward to serve you!