Your Allergies are Unique
Allergies impact the daily lives of millions of Americans, including those of us who call southeastern Louisiana home. New Orleans and the Greater New Orleans area enjoy warm weather and plentiful rain which often produces high levels of various allergens. The weather that makes our community a wonderful place to live also contributes to high levels of mold, pollen, dust, and other airborne allergies. Our year round growing season means that grass, trees, and weed pollen are plentiful.
Although we may share common symptoms and have similar allergic triggers, your specific allergy profile is unique to you. The key to overall allergy health starts with high quality testing. The professional team at New Orleans Sinus Center has the knowledge and skills to understand and evaluate your allergy profile and put together a plan that works for you.
What is Allergy Testing?
The board-certified team at New Orleans Sinus Center uses modern testing protocols and tools that accurately identify and measure your allergy issues. There are various allergy testing types and methods depending on the specific types of allergies that you have. The safest, most accurate, and beneficial allergy testing procedure involves a blend of skin and blood testing. This combined method ensures that your allergy test results are accurate, detailed, and reflect the full scope of your allergy issues.
Skin Prick Testing
The initial skin testing phase involves screening for dozens of common allergens. This screening is designed to identify allergic reactions to substances that you may regularly come into contact with here in southeastern Louisiana. These include common indoor and outdoor allergens such as:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Common foods
Skin tests have been safely used for allergies for over 100 years. Technology has advanced to ensure that these “skin pricks” are not painful and that you are safe throughout the testing process. Skin pricks are simply micro-incisions that gently enter the skin surface. There may be a short period of mild discomfort, but there is no bleeding or cuts that break the skin.
To ensure the accuracy of the test, the skin is cleaned and any foreign substances on the skin surface are removed. The medical professional will then draw a circle around each prick and apply a trace amount of an allergy extract on the skin surface. To compare the allergic reaction to normal skin irritation, a saline solution and a histamine solution will be applied to the skin. These will allow the test results to be accurately interpreted and will help in the development of a customized treatment plan.
The skin will quickly react to show the areas where an allergy is present and the areas where it is not. Each allergy indication will be a unique size and intensity depending on the severity of the reaction. The small bumps that indicate an allergy are known as a “wheal”. The wheal is surrounded by a larger area of redness that is known as a flare. The size of the wheal and flare will be proportional to the degree of allergic reaction. The larger the wheal and flare, the more intense the allergy.
This process of accurately classifying and quantifying each allergy is critical to the development of a unique treatment plan for you.
Intradermal Skin Testing
Some allergens do not cause a reaction at the skin surface. These include common allergens such as:
- Medications (penicillin, etc)
- Insect venom
To have an accurate understanding of these allergens, they must be placed below the skin’s surface. The intradermal skin test procedure involves introducing a safe amount of these allergens below the surface of the skin. A very small needle will make the injection with little discomfort. Similar to the skin prick testing, the results will be indicated by areas of redness that can be quantified to determine the size and scope of the reaction.
Allergy Blood Test
Allergy blood testing may be appropriate depending on your specific medical condition, health history, and allergy issues. Blood tests are not always necessary, but may be used in the following situations:
- Medication needs. If you are taking medication that would prevent an accurate skin test and are unable to safely stop the medication.
- Skin conditions. If you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, or another severe skin condition.
- Allergic reaction. If you are being tested for strong allergies that may result in an unsafe allergic reaction.
Allergy Testing to Allergy Treatment
High quality allergy testing is essential for highly effective allergy treatment. As the test results are recorded and quantified, they form the basis for a customized treatment plan. Each person’s skin reacts differently to allergens and the process of interpreting the results is complicated. Depending on the specific allergen, there is the rare possibility of false positives and false negatives. It is also possible to show a reaction to an allergen that does not negatively impact your daily life. This is why it is more important than ever to trust your allergy testing to a team of professionals that have the education, training, and experience to understand your allergy issues.
Accurate testing is the basis for an effective treatment plan. Your specific plan will be customized based on your unique needs and treatment goals. Your custom plan may include:
- Medication - Mild symptoms can be effectively managed with allergy medication. Medication will not reduce or eliminate an underlying allergy but will help with symptom relief.
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots or allergy drops) - If you prefer to get to the root cause of your allergies then Immunotherapy is the solution. Allergy drops and allergy shots are two methods that will take you past symptom relief toward total allergy relief. It works by reprogramming the immune system to respond properly to harmless allergens. Immunotherapy is the only long-term solution for real allergy relief.
- ENT Services - There are non-invasive solutions for your allergy related breathing issues. These include sinus infections, sleep issues, and much more. These safe and effective treatment options can work together with your allergy treatment plan to give you total relief.
Allergy Testing Questions?
If you have questions, you are not alone. Our professional, service-oriented staff will treat you warmly, take a personal interest in your care, and work to earn your total satisfaction. We take time to listen to your questions, provide the most accurate information, and give you the freedom to make the decision that works best for you.
Some of the most common questions include:
- Is allergy testing safe? Absolutely! Allergy testing has been a safe and effective tool for generations. You will be closely monitored in the office throughout the testing process. Testing involves trace amounts of the allergen that are carefully introduced to your system. Adverse reactions are very rare and easily controlled.
- Does allergy testing hurt? Most likely it will not. Most patients report mild discomfort and rarely experience pain.
- What do I need to know before testing? Be sure to carefully complete your medical history and report all medications that you are currently taking. If you take allergy medications, prescription, or over-the-counter, you will need to let us know before testing.
- Does insurance cover allergy testing? Allergy testing costs are often covered by insurance plans. Ask your insurance company for details about coverage, if referrals are needed, and about the types of treatment plans that are covered.
Contact us today with your allergy testing and treatment questions. We look forward to working together with you to address your allergy issues.
ENT Allergists You Can Trust
Living in southeastern Louisiana means that your allergies rarely take a break. Allergy season is year-round in New Orleans and Orleans and Jefferson Parishes and you need to choose a professional team that can empower you to live life to the fullest. Allergy testing is the first step on the path toward allergy freedom. You can control and reduce allergy symptoms and total allergy elimination is possible. New Orleans Sinus Center will develop a custom plan to address all of your allergy needs.
Our reputation is built on decades of experience in creating allergy treatment options that are safe, effective, affordable, and designed to meet your unique needs. Call today and take control of your health with high quality allergy testing.