Millions of people suffer from seasonal allergies, indoor allergies, and pet allergies. Some find relief from over-the-counter medications. While those medications can help immensely, they merely treat allergy symptoms, often without a physician’s diagnosis. People who have allergy-triggered asthma are among the patients who can benefit the most from allergy treatment.
For more effective allergy treatment, a person should be tested for allergies and treated according to those specific allergies. At Infinity Medical Clinic, Dr. Stemmerman performs skin testing to identify allergic triggers and follows it with immunotherapy that is designed specifically for each allergen. The testing and immunotherapy treatment provides convenient access to accurate and effective allergy treatment.
Allergy Testing & Diagnosis
For people who are concerned about treating specific allergies, skin testing can be performed in our Marion office in a matter of 15 minutes. However, you should stop taking all allergy medications for about a week before you have allergy testing done. Other medications may also interfere with the accuracy of the test, so be sure to go over your medications with your doctor prior to having allergy testing. Dr. Stemmerman says that winter is a good time to perform skin tests because seasonal allergens like pollen are minimal, which also reduces the patient’s need for antihistamines.
The scratch test on the skin is used to diagnose hay fever, allergic asthma, dermatitis, penicillin, and other allergies. Skin testing works best for airborne allergens. If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction or skin conditions in the past, it isn’t the best test for you. You may be able to have a blood test for allergies.
The allergy skin test consists of a series of mild scratches that expose the skin’s surface to the allergens in question. If the scratches swell and blister, it is likely you are allergic to the substance the doctor scratched into your skin. The doctor can then treat you specifically for that allergen. You may also be able to avoid that allergen. For example, if you test positive for a cat allergy, you can avoid spending time with cats.
If you are not able to avoid your seasonal or indoor allergy triggers, immunotherapy can be an effective way to desensitize you to that allergen. Immunotherapy for allergies consists of a series of shots with tiny amounts of the allergen in them. They are meant to stimulate your immune system without triggering a major allergic reaction. With each shot, the nursing staff will observe you in the office for about a half hour following the shot to make sure you don’t have a serious reaction.
Over time, the doctor increases the weekly or monthly dosage of allergens. This takes place in two phases over the course of several years. The buildup phase lasts three to six months, as the doctor increases the dosage. Then, the maintenance phase begins and continues for up to three years. It often takes one to three years to improve allergy symptoms to the point where the patient is no longer impacted by allergic reactions. Sometimes, people need to maintain the allergy shots for a long time to manage their symptoms. Other times, the immunotherapy shots can stop.
For convenience and comfort, have your allergy testing done close to home by a doctor you know. Ask Dr. Stemmerman at Infinity Medical Clinic for details about allergy skin testing.