With the rise in the number of people suffering from allergies in Australia, it is best to get an allergy test if you get any allergy symptoms. The purpose of an allergy test is to determine if your body is having an abnormal reaction to a particular substance. Allergies occur when your body’s immune system overreacts to something in the environment or food (2). It could be something as harmless as pollen or pet dander. Your body could react by sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, blocked sinuses, or itchy eyes, find a full list of common symptoms here.
Why do I need an Allergy Test in Australia?
Allergy tests help you find allergies in things you eat, breathe or touch. Once you have your allergy test results, your doctor can guide you on a treatment plan like; medications, allergen avoidance, and shots (immunotherapy). The most common conditions allergy tests look for are;
- Penicillin allergy
- Hay fever
- Allergic asthma
- Bee sting allergy
- Food allergies
A blood test (3) helps check the specific amount of allergen-specific antibodies in your blood. When you contact an allergen, your body releases antibodies to fight them. The release of antibodies in your blood causes cells in your body to release certain chemicals that result in allergy symptoms. The most commonly released antibody is immunoglobulin E (IgE) as an allergy response.
Blood tests help checkout for allergies arising from;
- Pet dander
The Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test will help you figure out exactly which environmental or food factor has caused severe effects on your immune system. The ELISA test measures the quantity of allergen-specific antibodies in your blood, you can check out the science behind our blood tests here.
Why take an allergy blood test?
Sometimes, taking a blood test to check for allergies may be a personal preference, while at other times, your doctor will recommend you do so if;
- You have a severe allergic reaction: If you often suffer from severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis, (4), you will need to get a blood test like any other test, such as a skin prick test can be detrimental to your health.
- You are on medication that could interfere with test results and can’t stop using it for a few days. These drugs include; antihistamines, heartburn medications, antidepressants, or steroids.
- You can’t tolerate the multiple needle scratches required for skin testing.
- You have an unstable heart condition.
- You have poorly controlled asthma.
- You have severe skin conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis, or other skin conditions. These skin conditions may not allow enough uninvolved skin to do a proper test. Also, conditions such as dermatographia may lead to unreliable test results.
If you have been doing immunotherapy (allergy treatments), a blood test may show if you have outgrown a particular allergy or not.
Pros and cons of blood allergy tests in Australia
The advantages of blood tests are:
- They are convenient and can be done at any time, irrespective of the medications you are taking. Since you can also order these tests online, you won’t have to set time aside to visit your doctor’s office.
- A blood test requires only one needle stick, and you are done. If you fear needles, this is the best test to take. Allergy blood testing is especially preferable for young kids as they cant persevere the pain that comes with skin testing.
The disadvantages of blood allergy tests
- Most insurance companies don’t cover blood tests. Sometimes your insurance company can cover an allergy test Australia, but only if your doctor recommends it. But either way, it is a long shot and may not work most of the time.
- Unlike a skin test, a blood test takes approximately one week to get the results. Skin testing, on the other hand, only provides immediate results.
When you react on the Allergy Test Australia blood testing results, you can see this on your results sent to your email or app. It means allergy-specific antibodies were detected in your blood, which can mean that you have an allergy. Sometimes it even shows foods or elements you have never thought you would have a reaction to.
A negative test result means you do not have a true allergy because your body doesn’t respond to the allergen tested. When we are testing intolerances, we are not interested in the immediate allergic reaction (TypeI allergy) or inflammation related to chronic diseases (IgG1, IgG2, IgG3). IgG4 in fact is considered the blocking antibody in respect to IgE and they block access of the IgE to the allergen, helping us to understand how your immune system is reacting to food antigens before an allergic reaction (TypeI) is developed (preventive screening). (5)
What to expect after an Allergy Test Australia blood test
Allergy blood testing is easy for the most part, but it has minor side effects like;
- Swelling and redness on the prick site.
- Bleeding at the prick site.
An allergy test is an excellent way of knowing which allergens affect your body, and your doctor can help you find a proper way to treat them (6) to avoid suffering from symptoms of allergies. If you have ever had signs like hives, rashes, and any other symptoms of allergies, and are wondering how to get an allergy test Australia you can order an allergy test online, and you can send back your sample at your earliest convenience.
About the Author
Written by Dr Enzo Fornari, trained as Pharmaceutical Biotechnologist, with PhD qualification in Biophysics and surface analysis. Dr Enzo is employed by Healthy Stuff as a Scientific Researcher: validating our tests, researching new testing methods and ensuring best practice in the lab. You can contact Dr Fornari at: [email protected] or check out his profile here.