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2023-10-15 23:35:30

Can You Do Allergy Testing at Home?

If the sniffles, sneezing, and watery eyes are getting the best of you, then you might consider using an allergy test kit right at home to see what could be causing these unwanted symptoms. Or maybe you're looking at food allergy testing from the comfort of home, instead, since after every meal, you're left with horrible hives and gastrointestinal issues.

Is at-home allergy testing a reliable way to figure out what's triggering your allergy symptoms? In this blog, we'll consider the pros and cons of at-home allergy tests, along with other ways to determine the root cause of these bothersome symptoms.

How Do These Allergy Tests Work?

Most often, allergy test kits require you to mail in a blood sample. When you purchase the test kit, it comes with everything you need.

For instance, in the test kit, you'll likely find disinfecting wipes, a disposable lancet (which is what you use for the finger prick to produce a blood sample), and perhaps a piece of paper where you smear a few drops of blood.

Drawing blood for home allergy test

The test kit should also contain the proper bag/box to safely mail your blood sample in. This is important since you're mailing an actual specimen.

You pack up your test kit, mail it to the required address, and wait to get your test results. These test results will indicate if you had an immune response to any of the allergens tested. Depending on the allergy testing you purchased, this could be food allergens or indoor and outdoor allergens (like ragweed or pollen).

Will an Allergy Test Done at Home Produce Reliable Test Results?

Can at-home allergy testing be accurate? Possibly. However, there are a few potential drawbacks you need to consider before taking the test results too seriously.

The Allergy Tests Might Not Be Totally Reliable

First, we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about the quality of these allergy tests. There's no real way to determine if they do what they claim they can do.

Furthermore, when an allergic reaction happens, your body releases immunoglobulin E (IgE), one type of antibody as a response. (Antibodies are like little soldiers that protect your body when your immune system thinks it's being attacked.)

Not all of these tests even check for IgE reactivity! If it's not measuring IgE antibodies, then it can't tell you if you've experienced an allergic reaction.

There's a Bigger Margin for Error in Collecting the Blood Specimen

Let's face it: Conducting a finger prick on yourself might not be the easiest thing in the world, understandably. And, let's be honest, it can be easy to mess up!

What if you don't provide enough blood... or too much? What if the blood somehow becomes contaminated? That could impact the results of these allergy tests.

You Might Be Experiencing Food Sensitivities Rather Than Food Allergies

Food allergy tests, like we said earlier, should check for antibodies. However, what if you're experiencing a food sensitivity/food intolerance, instead?

Eggs can sometimes cause allergic reactions

We've talked before about food allergies vs food intolerances. They are not the same! Food sensitivities do not trigger an immune response. Therefore, a food allergy test won't pick up on them.

So, this might lead you to believe that you can continue eating as you are... and yet, your food allergy-like symptoms don't go away.

Other Ways to Pinpoint Allergen Exposure

Instead of a home allergy test, you might consider starting with an elimination diet instead. With an elimination diet, you remove anything that could be causing symptoms and slowly reintroduce them one by one.

For example, let's say you get horrible abdominal pain any time you eat a grilled cheese sandwich. You could remove all of these ingredients from your diet --- bread, cheese, and the butter you cook the sandwich in.

Then, you can reintroduce them one at a time. Maybe everything is okay until you indulge in a slice of cheese. You've just learned something: Your body might not love this dairy product!

This can be a good start, but you still need a more reliable way to confirm something as a known allergy, which brings us to our next point.

What's a Better Alternative to an At-Home Allergy Test?

While a home allergy test might seem like an affordable and convenient option, those benefits are kind of moot if the test can't accurately determine why you're experiencing symptoms.

To better measure IgE reactivity and determine what's causing your unwanted symptoms, it's better to visit a clinic for actual blood testing. These blood tests are conducted by phlebotomists, and the specimen is later reviewed by a healthcare provider trained to understand immune responses and accurately interpret your test results.

You should also have the opportunity to go over your medical history, perhaps have a more complete physical exam, and discuss what further evaluation might look like.

Testing for Allergies and Sensitivities with eNational

eNational Testing offers various ways to test for allergies and sensitivities.

The Basic Food Sensitivity Test checks for more common food reactions.

The Comprehensive Sensitivity Test is more robust and all-encompassing.

The Celiac Panel will check if you have gluten intolerance, specifically.

And the Environmental Allergen Panel checks for reactions to common indoor and outdoor allergens (also called environmental allergens), like various grasses and pet dander/fur.

It's possible to have a severe allergic reaction to dogs

All four tests require a simple blood draw, and results are available within seven business days.

At-home allergy tests might seem like a good alternative to visiting the doctor's office, but the test quality and method of sample collection leave too much to chance. These at-home tests can easily fail to identify potential allergies, or even give you false-positive results!

Identify Environmental and Food Allergies with eNational Testing

eNational Testing has more than 2,000 locations around the United States. You can easily order your environmental or food sensitivity test online in just a few clicks, and you don't even need to visit your healthcare provider first.

Should you want to speak with a clinician after receiving your results, you'll be able to schedule a follow-up visit after your blood draw.

Your allergies might be causing mild symptoms. On the other hand, they can also be life-threatening. Don't wait to get to the bottom of them! At-home tests aren't reliable, but you have other test options available.

Whether you believe you're experiencing food allergies or environmental allergies, we can help. Order your test with eNational today. Your immune system will thank you.