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Allergy & Immunology

Diagnostic testing

The kind of testing you need will be determined by your physician, but there are some common procedures we perform. Most immunology testing can be done through blood work.

Prick/scratch/intradermal testing
A prick/scratch/intradermal skin test can be used to determine your unique allergies to environmental or food allergens. Results from the test can help to determine what allergens need to be avoided and allows allergy shot treatment to be customized to a person’s specific allergies.

Penicillin and drug skin tests
Penicillin skin tests are used to determine a patient’s sensitivity to penicillin, a common allergen. Small doses of penicillin and a control substance will be injected into separate places on the patient’s forearm. After waiting 15 minutes, the physician will check for a reaction. We can perform similar tests to other drugs as well as vaccines.

Venom skin testing
Venom skin testing is performed to determine hypersensitivity to specific bee venoms. A prick test and intradermal injections will be performed in 20-minute intervals for observation.

Oral challenge testing
Oral challenge testing is the best way to determine if a specific food or medicine is truly an allergy or whether the allergy could have resolved over time. The test involves ingesting a food or medicine starting with a very small amount and increasing the quantity every 30 minutes.

During the procedure, your physician will closely monitor you for rashes and breathing or gastrointestinal symptoms. If you experience any reactions during the test, you will be given allergy medicines, an inhaled bronchodilator, or injectable epinephrine immediately to relieve the symptoms. If no symptoms occur, it means you are not allergic to the substance and the allergy can be removed from the chart.

Pulmonary function testing
Pulmonary function testing involves measuring the airflow in the lungs using a device called a spirometer. This simple procedure measures lung capacity and is used to diagnose asthma and other lung disorders; patients breathe in and out normally, take deep breath, and then exhale as hard as they can for 6 seconds.

Methacholine challenge testing
Methacholine challenge testing is used to diagnose asthma if the pulmonary function test is normal. Using a mouthpiece or face mask, the patient inhales a mist containing different concentrations of a chemical called methacholine through a nebulizer. Before the test and after each inhalation, the patient will blow forcefully into a spirometer to determine lung function. If the lung function drops by 20% or more, a diagnosis of asthma is made. Albuterol is given at the end of the test to return the lung function back to the patient’s normal level.

Patch testing
Patch testing can be used to test for certain skin allergies, like nickel allergies or allergies to chemicals. This procedure requires patients to wear a patch, usually on their back, for several days to discover specific allergic reactions.