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Recognising the source of allergies

Most people diagnosed with an allergy learn to recognise their allergy triggers. They also learn to avoid them to help prevent symptoms.

An allergy specialist may be able to help you identify your triggers. Several different types of allergy tests are used to identify triggers.

Skin testing is the most widely used and the most helpful. There are several different methods, but all involve exposing the skin to small amounts of various substances and observing the reactions over time.

Blood tests are sometimes performed to find out what triggers an allergic reaction and are often used if a patient has a skin condition such as eczema, or if they are unable to stop taking antihistamines. Such medications can interfere with an allergy skin test, which is a common test used to identify allergy triggers, but in general do not interfere with allergy blood tests.

Blood tests measure the amount of IgE antibody. A small amount of blood is taken from the allergy sufferer and analysed for immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which are produced in response to allergens. High levels of these antibodies in the blood usually indicate an allergy.

Patch test: A small amount of suspected allergen is applied to metal discs and attached to the skin for 48 hours, usually in hospital, and the area is monitored for a reaction.

Other tests involve eliminating certain allergens from your environment and then re-introducing them to see if a reaction occurs.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 02, 2016

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