How can I check to see what I'm allergic to?

Talking to your doctor is the most important way to determine what you are allergic to. However there are also two main diagnostic tests to help determine what allergen is giving you symptoms.

The first, and the simpler of the two, is the skin test. In this test, small samples of suspected allergens are placed on the skin and a small needle is used to introduce them into the skin. If you are allergic to any of the allergens there, you will develop a reaction, which may range from slight swelling and inflammation to full urticaria. Skin testing is commonly done on the arms or the back. This test is cheaper, easier, but less reliable, and also causes symptoms.

The second test is a blood test, and involves interacting IgE with suspected allergens. The full name for this test is the IgE radioallergosorbent test (IgE RAST). It is much more reliable and accurate than skin testing, however, it is more difficult and expensive to do. Blood tests are preferred in patients who have suffered from anaphylactic shock, as introducing suspected allergens into the patient would put them at risk of another anaphylactic shock.

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