Allergy testing

What does allergy testing involve?

First, the consultant will discuss your history in detail, including questions about the exact nature and severity of the symptoms. Allergy testing, if appropriate, is carried out by pricking microscopic amounts of allergens through the skin, usually on the forearm, and checking some minutes later to see whether the skin has reacted to the substance. These allergens, such as nuts or pollen, will be in liquid form. If you suspect that particular foods may be causing reactions, we recommend that you bring these foods to the consultation, separately wrapped and labelled, and these may also be used during testing.

If a prick test is not appropriate, the consultant may perform a blood test.

The results of the tests will identify which form of treatment or advice is necessary. You may have to make some lifestyle changes to avoid certain foods or substances, but your consultant will advise following your individual results.

It is recommended that patients bring to their consultation anything that may have already been prescribed for allergy, such as inhalers, antihistamine tablets and adrenaline autoinjector devices e.g. Epipen.

What is a Type I allergy?

This is where the body reacts abnormally to substances naturally present in our environment such as pollen, dust, pets, latex and foods including nuts. Allergy is on the increase in Western European countries. Patients with asthma, eczema, allergic conjunctivitis and hay fever are more commonly affected. Reactions often occur very quickly on exposure to the allergen.

If you are suffering from symptoms such as itchy eyes, wheezing, sneezing or an itchy rash and you suspect they occur following exposure to particular things, our experienced consultants can perform a series of tests to determine the cause of your reactions and the best method of treatment for you.

When will I recover?

The itchy reactions on the test site usually last approximately half an hour, but you will be able to go home before they disappear. The prick testing is safe, and it is very rare for extreme or serious reactions to occur. 

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