Allergy Test FAQ

Allergy

What is allergy?

An allergy is the abnormal over-reaction of your body’s immune system to something that usually does not trigger a reaction in most people. Normally, your immune system acts as your body’s defense system and fights germs or foreign substances. In an allergic reaction however, your immune system responds to a false alarm.

In short,

A normal environmental substance + malfunctioned immune system = > allergic reaction
Reason: the immune system “thinks” that the substance is an “ALIEN” and reacts against it!

How common is allergy?

It is common! One in three people is allergic to something.

Who are more susceptible to allergy?

Allergy is caused by a combination of both genetic and environmental influences. Specific allergies are not inherited but the chances of having an allergy are greatly increased if a family member of yours is allergic.

Age and allergy

Yes. Although most allergies make their first appearance in the first 20 years of age, they can develop in any person at any age, and are virtually never outgrown. Children are known to undergo age-related changes in patterns of allergy. For example,

  • Allergy to foods can occur in babies at few weeks of age
  • Allergy to respiratory allergens usually occurs after age 2 or 3 years
  • Allergy to indoor allergens in pre-schoolers are more commonly seen than pollen allergies

The course and presentation of allergy is variable and is age dependant; One allergy may manifest itself as a different symptom at a later age. For example, atopic eczema in children usually manifests as asthma or other respiratory allergies at an older age.

What are the common symptoms of allergy?

Allergic reactions depends on the individual – it can be mild or severe, varies on different exposures, may or may not get worse over time, involves the whole body, and sometimes can be life threatening.

Common symptoms are:
Mild     : rash / eczema, sneezing, running nose, asthma, otitis (ear infection), swelling etc
Severe : life-threatening (known as anaphylaxis) symptoms : difficulty to breathe, vomit, low blood pressure etc

Why should I know my allergens?

It is necessary to know what you are allergic to so that you may avoid the allergen or be prepared in advance for accidental exposure in the form of medications. While an allergic reaction may seem minor the first time, there is a chance that the allergic reaction may be more severe when you encounter the allergen a second time. Some allergic reactions can also be life threatening.

Who should get an allergy panel test?

ANYONE can get the test done.

However, if you frequently suffer from any of the allergy-like symptoms above, it is particularly recommended that you get an allergy panel test done.

Why do I need to do an allergy test?

  • To assist in accurate diagnosis of a health complaint
  • To determine the most appropriate treatment based on an accurate identification of offending allergens and a correct diagnosis
  • To assess individual allergy risk
  • To check for new allergies that developed towards different allergens over time

What are the options available for allergy testing?

Name In-vivo (inside the body) In-vitro (outside the body)
Test Method Skin prick Blood test
Test
Conducted On
Smooth skin on arm Blood
Advantages • Low cost, high sensitivity and rapid results • Not interfered by skin condition or medication.
• No reaction triggered in patient.
• Reliable testing method.
• Minimum blood sample.
Limitations • May be affected by medication and skin condition.
• Potential to cause adverse reaction.
• Responsiveness depends on age.
• Inconvenient for patient.
• Requires skill and expertise.
• High cost but it returns quantitative result
for future monitoring

“I have done an allergy test at another place, the results showed Class I, II, etc., I do not need another allergy test at BP Diagnostic Centre.”

The allergy testing system (allergen-specific IgE antibody test) at BP Diagnostic Centre is able to quantify your allergic reaction. Knowing Class I, II etc may not be sufficient as it is only a qualitative measurement and will not be able to tell you how allergic you currently are.

What are the advantages of quantifying IgE?

  • Allows prediction of disease and follow up of any disease development
  • Reflects effectiveness of allergen avoidance
  • Optimises treatment strategies and patient management

What are the common allergens?

Common allergens usually from the below categories :
Food Allergens
Food : nuts, crab, prawn, etc

Aeroallergens (via air)
Animal : dog, cat, etc
Mite : house dust mite, etc
Pollen : grass, trees, weeds, etc
Mould : fungus, common : alternaria, cladosporium, aspergillus, penicillium etc

Why must I test for a panel of allergens and not a specific allergen?

In allergy testing, testing for a specific allergen is usually not recommended. Usually an allergen panel test is recommended, which will include common prevalent allergens in the country. Allergy panel tests are particularly recommended if you frequently suffer from eczema, rhinitis, wheeze / asthma, gastro and otitis – these may be indicative that you are allergic to something.

Is there any special preparation required before an allergy panel blood test?

No special preparation required. Just drop by any BP Diagnostic Centre and have a blood sample taken.

Why is allergy panel tests cost-saving?

Identification of the real allergen or cause for allergic-like symptoms is crucial and cost-effective in the long term because:

  • it avoids any potential ineffective treatment
  • it saves you from unnecessary treatment costs
  • allergy panel tests only accounts for 1% of the total disease management cost
  • allergy panel tests need not be performed on a regular basis

What if I had recently done an allergy panel test? How often should I repeat it?

Sensitisation to new allergens could occur over time. If you notice any new allergy-like symptoms, it is recommended that you do another allergy panel test. An allergy test may be done occasionally to determine whether a child has outgrown an allergy.