Traditionally, skin tests have been used to diagnose allergy. These tests are time-consuming, awkward, painful, and often dangerous to many patients. In an attempt to remove these problems, medical science has turned to advanced computerized technology to allergy testing. Allergies can be identified and treated with the help of a laboratory blood test called the “RAST” test. This test measures the amount and kind of substances (called IgE antibodies) in the blood that can trigger allergies. This test is not affected by illness or medication. It is less dangerous, more precise, and more reliable than skin tests.
If it is determined that allergy testing is necessary, the first blood test to be ordered is an Inhalant Screening Panel. This panel contains six to eight of the most important and common inhalant allergens in the area.
If this initial screening test shows the presence of allergies, an Expanded Inhalant Panel containing additional inhalant allergens is performed. This is necessary to identify completely all other potential inhalant allergens.
If the initial screen does show inhalant allergy and the allergy history suggests the possibility of a food allergy, further testing may be required to find the offending food group(s). The Food Allergy Evaluation consists of testing for common foods, together with an analysis of the completed “Food Diary”
NOTE: Usually only one blood sample is necessary for all testing required.