Numerous substances can cause an allergic reaction, however some of the most common include:
- Insect bites
Seeing an Allergist: Do I have an Allergy?
If you suspect you have an allergy, the best person to see is an allergist or immunologist who can test you for allergies and determine if your symptoms are in fact an allergic reaction. For treatment, you may require allergy shots (immunotherapy) or be prescribed an antihistamine.
Conditions typically treated by an allergist include:
- Hay fever
- Hives (Urticaria)
- Bee sting allergy
- Allergic rhinitis
- Allergic eye reactions,
- Atopic dermatitis
- Chronic cough
- Chronic sinus infections
- Frequent colds
- Swelling (Angioedema)
Allergy Testing and Diagnosis
For effective allergy treatment you should undergo allergy testing. Testing for allergies is harmless, involving a skin prick test or blood work. Fortunately, today’s allergy tests are highly accurate, making it easier to isolate and identify the specific substances triggering your symptoms.
Most skin prick tests are performed on the forearms. A series of allergens are placed by number on the arm, followed by a small prick with a thin needle. After waiting for approximately 15 minutes, your doctor will be able to determine if you have an allergic reaction. An allergy is indicated by the skin turning red and beginning to swell near one of the test drops. Skin prick tests for children are often peformed on their back.
Your allergist or physician will determine an allergy treatment plan depending on the type of allergy you have (i.e. removal of allergens from your diet, cessation of certain medications, etc.).
In rare cases, a negative reaction to an allergen may result in anaphylactic shock, which should be treated immediately by an injection with an epi-pen. Bee stings and other insect bites can be life-threatening if you are allergic to them, so be sure to carry an epi-pen or go to the nearest hospital if you are experiencing an allergic reaction.