Allergies, also known as allergic diseases, are a group of conditions caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to substances the individual is exposed to in his surroundings. Allergies are common in people and are manifested as allergic rhinitis, food allergy, atopic dermatitis (Hives), asthma, and rarely Anaphylaxis. One of the allergy testing method i.e. Skin prick testing helps in determining the specific environmental / food allergen and thus helps in effective management of allergic diseases. Allergy testing can help confirm or rule out allergies. Correct diagnosis, counselling, and avoidance advice based on valid allergy test results reduces the incidence of symptoms and need for medications, and thus improves quality of life.
SKIN PRICK TESTING is also known as “puncture testing” and “prick testing” due to the series of tiny punctures or pricks made into the patient’s skin. Small amounts of suspected allergens and/or their extracts (e.g., pollen, grass, mite proteins, peanut extract) are introduced to sites on the skin marked with pen or dye. A small plastic or metal device is used to puncture or prick the skin. Sometimes, the allergens are injected “intradermally” into the patient’s skin, with a needle and syringe. Common areas for testing include the inside of the forearm and the back.
Food allergy is very common in Indian population, and if it can be found at an early stage it can help in avoiding such food items and person can recover completely. Management of allergies typically involves avoiding what triggers the allergy and medications to improve the symptoms.
Allergen Immunotherapy is useful for environmental allergies, allergies to insect bites, and asthma. Its benefit for food allergies is unclear and thus not recommended. Immunotherapy involves exposing people to larger and larger amounts of allergen either by subcutaneous route or sublingual route in an affect to change the immune system’s response. Meta-analyses have found that injections of allergens under the skin is effective in the treatment of allergic rhinitis in children and in asthma. The benefits may last for years after treatment is stopped. It also helps in reducing the use of other medications like inhaled corticosteroids in bronchial asthma.
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