Allergies affect millions of people in the US. There are lots of telltale signs to look for if you think you might be experiencing allergy symptoms. Signs such as frequent sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and a congested nose. You may experience problems when you eat certain foods. All of these symptoms could be related to allergies. But how do you know for sure? One way a doctor may start the process of diagnosing allergy is by referring you for allergy blood test.
In this article, we’re going to look at when an allergy blood test could be done and how the test is performed. We’ll talk about how accurate allergy blood testing is, and we’ll also explain what the test results can show.
What is an allergy blood test?
Allergy blood testing is the same as any other blood test: a small amount of your blood is sent to a lab for analysis.
Allergy blood tests detect Immunoglobulin E (IgE) in your blood. IgE is an antibody produced by the immune system in connection with a reaction to protect us from outside intruders such as parasites.
When you’re allergic to, for example, pollen, certain foods, or insect stings your immune system overreacts to the otherwise harmless substance and triggers the same defense mechanisms as against parasitic infections. The body produces IgE antibodies specific to the allergen it’s trying to fight. These antibodies tell cells in your body to release certain chemicals. And it is those chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
Allergy blood tests identify and measure specific IgE antibodies in your blood. Since IgE antibodies are different depending on what they are reacting to, allergy blood testing can point to what allergens your body is reacting to.
Tests show if you’re sensitized
Allergy blood testing can be the first step to finding out if you have an allergy. Think of the results of an allergy blood test as a sign of a suspected allergy rather than stand-alone proof. You basically get a risk profile of which allergen you might be allergic to.
When it comes to understanding how allergy blood testing works and how results are interpreted, it’s important to note that the presence of IgE antibodies in your blood does not necessarily mean you are allergic. It means that you are sensitized.
Sensitization vs allergy
Sensitization is the first step in developing an allergy. Allergic reactions do not happen the first time you encounter an allergen. First, your immune system has to meet the allergen and build the specific IgE antibody against it. This process is called sensitization.
If you’re allergic, the next encounter with the allergen might then trigger an allergic reaction. However, some people are sensitized and have specific IgE antibodies but don’t experience any allergic reaction no matter how often they are in contact with the allergen.
That means an allergy blood test shows if you’re sensitized to a specific trigger. Not that you are necessarily allergic to it. Only in connection with your symptoms and medical history, a board-certified allergist will be able to interpret the results in order to give a diagnosis of allergy.
When should tests be done?
If you often feel ‘unwell’ and can’t seem to find the cause, it might be that you suffer from sensitization or a full-blown allergy. At-home allergy testing like AllergenIQ allow you to get the strong results of a skin-prick blood test right from the comfort of your home, to help identify your allergy profile and root-out any potential underlying causes to your suffering. Combined with a consultation with a board-certified allergist, and you can rest assured that you’re getting the clearest, most concise perspective on your individual situation.
How are tests performed?
Our blood tests are quick and easy to self-administer and require very little blood and almost no discomfort whatsoever. Simply use the sterilized lancet in your AllergenIQ kit to prick the tip of your finger, then allow a few drops of blood to fall onto the test panel. Then send this test panel in – postage paid – and await your results. There are no substantial and uncomfortable blood draws, requiring trips to the doctors office and potential downtime.
How accurate are results?
Overall, the accuracy of blood tests for allergy is high. Blood tests are evolving all the time and getting more precise. Some blood tests are now able to give results for individual components of a single allergen. Our CLIA certified labs employ only the most up-to-date technology, ensuring the results you get are clear, concise and above all, accurate.
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