Get to the Root of your Allergies
Allergies impact the daily lives of millions of Americans. For those who live in Baton Rouge and surrounding communities in southern Louisiana, allergy issues are more prevalent.
Warm temperatures, humid air, and geography combine to produce high levels of mold, pollen, dust, and other airborne allergies. Grass, trees, and weeds can grow year-round to produce various types of pollen. Our abundance of seafood and other agricultural products can also be difficult for those who suffer from food allergies.
The first step toward allergy health is to properly identify the allergens that are impacting you. Once they are identified, a fully customized treatment plan can help you achieve victory over your symptoms. No matter the type of allergies you suffer from, the professional allergy team at Louisiana Ear Nose Throat & Sinus (L.E.N.T.S) can help you get to the root and find a long term solution.
What is Allergy Testing?
The allergy team at L.E.N.T.S uses the most up-to-date allergy testing procedure to ensure that your allergies are properly identified and measured. There are various allergy testing types and methods, but the safest, most accurate, and beneficial testing is referred to as MQT (modified quantitive testing). The MQT protocol blends the benefits of skin prick testing with the accuracy of intradermal testing. The combination of both types of testing will ensure that allergy test results are detailed and reflect the exact size and scope of your allergy issues.
Skin Prick Testing
The first phase of MQT involves screening for dozens of common allergens. These include allergens that are unique to our area in southern Louisiana. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, and various foods.
The name “skin prick” may sound painful, but the test is not. These tests involve micro-incisions that barely enter the skin. There is no bleeding and most patients report feeling mild discomfort for a very short period of time.
Before testing begins, the skin is thoroughly cleaned to ensure that no outside substances influence the test. Circles are drawn around each prick and a safe allergy extract is placed in each area to allow it under the skin surface. Testing also involves exposing the skin to histamine and a saline solution. These last two substances help to determine the overall skin sensitivity to ensure that results are properly calculated.
After a short period of time, the skin will show signs of an allergic reaction. In the event of an allergic reaction, there will be small bumps that are referred to as a “wheal”. These wheals will be surrounded by an area of redness known as a flare that shows the body’s reaction to the allergen. The size of the wheal and flare will reveal the degree to which your body is reacting to each specific allergen. The larger the area, the more severe the allergy.
Intradermal Skin Testing
It is important to expose some allergens below the skin’s surface. This is because some allergens do not cause a reaction until they get beneath the skin. Allergens such as animal venom and medications like penicillin will not cause a reaction until they are below the surface.
The intradermal skin test procedure involves injecting a safe amount of the allergen below the skin with a very small needle. The skin will show results with areas of redness that can be measured to determine the size of the reaction.
Allergy Testing Results and Treatment
Allergy testing provides a comprehensive set of results that can be used to formulate a treatment plan that is fully customized for you. Each patient will know the basic results of their test before they leave the office based on the appearance and size of each reaction. It is important to have your results interpreted by a trusted professional as some results may be inconclusive. False positive and false negative tests are not likely, but possible depending on how the skin reacts to the allergen. Some allergens may show up on the test even though they do not cause an impact on your daily life.
Once results are known and understood, your personalized treatment plan may include a number of methods. These treatments may include:
- Medication - Some mild allergy symptoms may be effectively managed with medications. These medications do not eliminate the allergy, but they do help reduce the body’s reaction and make life a little easier.
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots or allergy drops) - Immunotherapy is the only solution that addresses the root cause of your allergy. Rather than simply managing symptoms, these solutions help train the body’s natural immune system to properly respond to an allergen. Immunotherapy is the best long-term solution for real allergy relief.
- ENT Services - depending on your specific allergy issues and your body’s response, you may consider various non-invasive solutions to your major symptoms. These may include solutions to help you with breathing, persistent infections, sinuses, sleep problems and much more. Often these difficult medical issues are directly related to your allergies.
Allergy Testing Questions?
Many patients have questions before they begin the process of allergy testing and treatment. Our office takes pride in listening to each patient, taking the time to explain treatment options, and answering your questions. Some of the most common questions include:
- Is allergy testing safe? Yes. Very small and safe amounts of the allergen are introduced into the system. During testing, each patient is carefully monitored for any adverse reaction. These reactions are rare and easily controlled.
- Does allergy testing hurt? Most patients do not report pain, but there will likely be mild discomfort during testing.
- What do I need to know before testing? Be sure that you have reported all of your current medications, including prescription and over-the-counter. If you take any allergy medications, including nasal sprays or other medications, be sure to ask before testing to see if you need to stop those treatments before testing begins.
- Does insurance cover allergy testing? Most insurance plans cover allergy testing and treatment. Ask your insurance company for details about coverage, if referrals are needed, and about the types of allergy treatment plans that are covered.
What’s Next? How can I get started?
Allergy testing can start you on the path to taking control of your health. It is possible to manage, reduce, and even eliminate allergies and their symptoms. The professional team at Louisiana Ear Nose Throat & Sinus is dedicated to walking you through the process from allergy testing to treatment and eventually to freedom from your allergies. Our team has a reputation that is built on trust, listening to each patient to make sure that you are getting the relief that you need.
Our caring physicians include Allergy specialists, ENT specialists, and other professionals that will help you get to the root of your medical issues. Contact us today and let us put you on the path to the allergy-free life that you deserve.