We've talked before about whether or not you need to fast before a thyroid test. What about allergy testing? Can you consume your normal foods and beverages, or could certain things impact your allergy test results?
Let's talk about how you can prepare for an allergy test, what you can safely eat, and what you should avoid so that you can obtain accurate results.
Before you go in for allergy testing, you'll want to avoid your daily cup of java. This is because it can mask your allergy symptoms and actually suppress your immune system's response to the allergy test. More specifically, it can impact your heart rate and blood pressure.
Because your immune system isn't behaving how it normally would in response to that allergen, you might not get accurate results on your allergy test.
Remember, it's not just coffee you'll need to avoid. Refrain from consuming anything that contains caffeine, including chocolate, tea, soda, and even certain medications, if you're taking them. This includes some over-the-counter medications, like Excedrin Migraine and certain types of Midol.
You may also need to discontinue taking antihistamines and antihistamine-decongestant combinations before your allergy test. This includes over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal antihistamine sprays.
Beta-blockers are another no-go because they can interfere with treatment if you end up having a serious reaction during testing (which is unlikely, but it's better to be safe than sorry).
Certain heartburn medications, tricyclic antidepressants, and sleep aids might also be off-limits.
If you're not sure if your medications contain caffeine, speak with your healthcare provider. And hopefully this goes without saying, but if you take medication that is vital for your well-being — such as heart medication or antidepressants — talk to your prescribing doctor before stopping taking it!
There are some fruits and vegetables that you might want to steer clear of if you have an allergy test coming up. These include apples, bananas, cucumbers, corn, spinach, and cherries. These have a high cross-reactivity with allergens and may disrupt the test results for your allergy test.
In a nutshell, you need to avoid consuming/using certain things before allergy testing because they can change how your body responds to the allergens you're being tested for.
So, your test results might show you're not having an allergic reaction to something when you really are, or vice versa.
Usually, if you stop drinking caffeine and avoid the aforementioned medications 24-48 hours before your allergy testing, you should be okay!
However, if you have any doubts, speak with your provider or the lab where you're getting your allergy test done. They should give a complete list of foods, drinks, and medications to be avoided prior to your allergy test, and when you need to stop taking them.
To better understand how certain foods, beverages, and medications can interfere with allergy tests, it helps to know how allergy tests work in the first place!
First, there are two main types of allergy testing: an allergy blood test and allergy skin testing.
When you experience an allergic reaction, your body produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) in response. This is how you're able to "fight" that allergic reaction.
Blood tests work by measuring how much IgE you have in your blood. If you have a heightened amount of IgE antibodies, it could mean that you've had a positive reaction to something.
eNational Testing offers four types of allergy and sensitivity blood testing: the Basic Food Sensitivity Panel, the Comprehensive Food Sensitivity Panel, the Celiac Panel, and the Environmental Allergens Panel.
We have more than 2,000 locations across the United States. Find a testing center near you.
Skin tests work by putting a small amount of a substance that could be causing your allergic reactions on the skin's surface. This usually happens on the forearm, upper arm, or back.
Then, the allergist performs what's called a "skin prick test." Essentially, they puncture the skin so that the substance can go past the first layer. (Don't worry — you might just barely feel the skin prick.)
Next, they look for signs of a reaction during the allergy skin test! This usually comes in the form of swelling or redness of the skin.
When conducted by a qualified allergist, both allergy skin tests and blood testing can be very accurate.
It's worth noting that with the allergy skin test, you get immediate results, whereas getting the results of a blood test can take a few days.
However, blood tests are less affected by antihistamines than skin tests, so this could mean that you get more accurate results.
If you're not sure if you need a blood draw or a skin prick test, speak with an allergist you trust!
If allergy skin testing or a blood draw indicates that you're indeed experiencing a reaction to a certain allergen, there are a few potential outcomes.
In some cases, you might need to avoid potential allergens completely. For instance, if you discover that you have a severe allergy to environmental allergens like dust or dog fur, you might have to be more intentional about keeping your home clean, regularly de-shedding your pet, and using a vacuum cleaner and air purifier with a HEPA filter.
There are also certain medications that can help to ease your symptoms. In addition, you might consider allergy shots. This is more of a long-term approach.
Allergy shots contain a small amount of the allergen that's causing your reaction. It's enough to trigger an immune response but not enough to give you a full-blown allergic reaction.
Over time, this teaches your body not to have a response to that allergen.
eNational Testing makes it easier than ever to order your allergy test. With more than 2,000 locations around the nation, you never have to go far to find us. You can order your test in just a few clicks, and you don't even need to see your doctor first.
If allergies have got you down, get to the bottom of them. Find a testing center near you and order your test online today!