Your Doctor at Health Renewal will perform a physical examination and request a comprehensive blood analysis at your local pathology laboratory. These results will be analyzed by your Doctor who will advise you on your treatment options.
Tests and Diagnosis for Allergies
To properly begin diagnosing a patient presenting allergies- the Medical Doctor will do a full physical examination after having worked through medical history with the patient. Once an allergen(s) is linked to the patient experiencing specific symptoms, that relationship can be examined and tests ordered to identify the specific allergenic substance and subsequent treatment of the presenting symptoms.
1. The most common allergy test used by Doctors is the scratch or skin prick test. This test entails using the patient’s forearm or the upper back area to test small amounts of various suspected allergens-this is done by introducing the allergens on normal unaffected skin through a small needle prick and watching monitoring the patient for a response. If there is a positive reaction to the antigen the patient might experience an itching feeling, reddening of the area and a raised wheal (or welt). In addition there might be hives around the wheal. The only downside of this test is running the risk of causing the very rare, but possible, life-threatening anaphylactic reaction by introducing possible triggering allergens during the test.
2. Radioallergosorbent test (RAST): This test evaluates the levels of specific IgE (immunoglobulin) antibody and activity in serum. Similarly to the skin test the RAST provides allergen-specific information. This test is performed by working with the patient's blood sample, obtained from the laboratory. The RAST test has the advantage of not having any exposure risks, as when testing on direct skin. The only downside is that of giving blood, and the patient might experience slight pain or bruising.
3. Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA): This method is an alternative to the RAST test, also testing immunoglobulin levels. This test provides an indirect determination of what substances a patient may react negatively to. Like the RAST, this test carries no direct risk to the patient by direct exposure to allergens.
4. Differential leukocyte count: The white blood cell count and differential is part of the complete blood count(CBC). In this test the total number (and types) of white blood cells are counted to obtain valuable information. The CBC generally includes neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, basophils, eosinophils, and bands. If a patient has an allergic reaction the Eosinophils levels are often elevated. The downside of this method of testing is that it does not provide any specific information on allergic substances, as it is nonspecific in nature.
5. Elimination-challenge diet: This test is mostly used to identify food related allergens, but due to the process of elimination it needs to be followed diligently and is very dependent on the patients' participation to get accurate results. The timeframe of the diet will normally be for a minimum of two weeks, and remove typical allergenic foods such as dairy, soy products, corn and wheat. In addition other foods that can cause food allergic reactions include: overly processed foods, food dyes, and spices which may also be eliminated. It is up to the patient to very closely monitor symptoms for several weeks, and to continue removing certain trigger items from the diet until there are no more allergic signs or symptoms present. Once al symptoms are gone, the patient can slowly start to reintroduce food types, one at a time, to see how the body reacts and in such a way find the food element that is the cause of allergic response.