Allergy symptoms are no joke. Itchy, puffy eyes and nose, sneezing and shortness of breath may leave you stuck at home or struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
But which allergens are causing these symptoms? Seasonal allergens, such as grass, ragweed and pollen? Or environmental allergens, such as pet dander, pests or dust?
Finding out which allergens are causing your symptoms may be the first step to finding relief.
Discover the main types of allergy testing available and how to get an at-home allergy test for seasonal and environmental allergies — all without leaving the house.
Getting tested for allergies may not always be necessary, but it may offer peace of mind (and may even help prevent a serious emergency or a case of anaphylaxis.
Allergy testing may also even help prevent allergy symptom flare-ups and accidental exposure to certain allergens. The main benefits of allergy testing include peace of mind, more effective allergy treatment plans and bypassing allergen avoidance diets.
Peace of mind is one of the main reasons to get tested for allergies.
There’s a good chance you already know what foods, plants, pollens and animals you’re allergic to. Yet, allergy testing may also offer more in-depth information into your allergies than just symptom triggers.
Some allergy tests may detect how serious of a reaction you’re likely to experience when exposed to allergens. Allergies may actually worsen with each exposure, meaning your immune system may have a more serious reaction after every bee sting or puppy snuggle.
It’s also possible some patients are allergic to some allergens and not even know it.
If you don’t regularly eat shellfish, you may not discover an allergy until after you pile your plate high at a seafood buffet.
Knowing what you’re allergic to is simply information that you can use to avoid allergens — and possible symptoms. Your doctor may also suggest carrying an epinephrine pen in the case of accidental exposure to allergens.
Doctors, allergists and clinicians may not be able to provide adequate allergy treatment without an allergy test.
After receiving test results, you’ll know the severity of your allergies, which allergens to avoid and which medications to take to prevent symptoms in case of accidental exposure.
Before treatments (such as natural allergy treatments, allergy immunotherapy, avoidance and medication), your doctor may recommend or require an allergy test.
Allergy immunotherapy has been around for over 100 years, though its popularity is currently gaining traction.
Sometimes referred to as allergy shots, allergy immunotherapy introduces small doses of allergens to the body. Over time, the immune system stops seeing these allergens as a threat.
Two types of allergy immunotherapy are currently available, including subcutaneous immunotherapy and sublingual immunotherapy.
The more commonly recognized allergy shots are subcutaneous immunotherapy. Allergy immunotherapy administered orally is called sublingual immunotherapy.
While allergy shots have been more prevalent throughout the U.S., sublingual immunotherapy has been more popular in countries such as France (where 90% of allergy immunotherapy is administered orally).
You may need to make an appointment at your doctor’s or allergist’s office to get allergy shots, but you can make a telehealth appointment with a Curex specialist to see if sublingual immunotherapy is right for you. If so, sublingual immunotherapy may be administered right in the comfort of your own.
Allergen avoidance is another popular way to manage allergy symptoms. Instead of treating allergy symptoms, patients simply avoid allergens altogether.
This may mean avoiding foods, such as shellfish, tree nuts and dairy. Or, it may mean avoiding the forest on damp days (when mold spores are likely to be disturbed) or staying indoors during peak tree pollen season.
It’s more difficult to avoid allergens if you don’t know what you’re allergic to. Getting tested for allergies allows you to avoid the allergens that cause symptoms (while carrying an epinephrine pen in case of accidental exposure).
If you suffer from food allergies, some doctors may recommend an allergen avoidance diet.
This type of eating plan removes all potential allergens from your diet. Under the supervision of a doctor, foods will be reintroduced one by one to determine which foods trigger allergy symptoms.
These diets are strict, and eating may not return to normal for several weeks to months. Your doctor may recommend an allergy test instead of an allergen avoidance diet.
Another common treatment for allergies is allergy medications, such as antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays.
These medications have been proven effective in treating allergy symptoms. One of the downsides of antihistamines and nasal sprays is their possible side effects. Some patients report drowsiness, gastrointestinal issues, confusion and more when taking allergy medications.
Allergy test results may tell you which allergens cause the most uncomfortable symptoms. Your doctor may suggest only taking allergy medications before likely exposure to allergens causing these symptoms.
Only taking allergy medications before exposure to such allergens may help reduce allergy medication dosage — and possible medication side effects.
Before deciding on any allergy treatment plan, your doctor may want you to get an allergy test.
Simply knowing which allergies are the cause of your symptoms may help you and your doctor target medication, allergen avoidance and allergy immunotherapy options.
There may also be a possibility that your symptoms aren’t caused by allergies at all; the symptoms of other conditions are similar to those of allergy symptoms — and may not be treated by allergy medications or other allergy treatment plans.
Your doctor may simply suggest getting an allergy test to rule out other conditions and advise on the best allergy treatment plan for you.
If you want to try allergy immunotherapy, you may need to get tested for allergies first. Since each dose of immunotherapy contains small amounts of allergens, your clinician will need to know which allergies to treat.
This is why Curex asks at-home immunotherapy patients to submit an allergy test as part of their intake information.
Certain types of sublingual immunotherapy may address more than one allergy at a time. Clinicians pinpoint each allergy and prescribe the immunotherapy dosage to help prevent specific allergy symptoms.
Instead of treating all allergies with one medication (as antihistamines and steroids do), only specific allergies are addressed by immunotherapy doses.
Before starting at-home allergy immunotherapy, talk to your clinician about allergy testing options, including submitting a previous allergy test or ordering an at-home allergy test.
Currently, allergy testing is available for certain food allergies, seasonal allergies and environmental allergies. Depending on the allergy, you may be able to order an at-home allergy testing kit instead of making an in-person appointment at a doctor’s or allergist’s office or at a lab.
About 4% of adults suffer from food allergies. Food allergies are more prevalent in adolescents, as up to 6% of children suffer from them.
If you believe you are allergic to food allergens, you may make an appointment with your doctor or allergist. Some companies may also sell at-home allergy testing kits that test for food allergies.
Common in-person food allergy tests may include skin scratch tests (where small amounts of food allergens are inserted underneath the skin), blood tests (that require a simple blood draw) and avoidance diets (where patients avoid all possible allergens before slowly reintroducing them under doctor supervision).
More than 60 million people in the U.S. suffer from seasonal allergies each year. Dozens of allergens may trigger symptoms, but some of the most common include tree pollen, grasses and mold.
Seasonal allergies may be triggered seasonally, as plants, flowers and trees start to bloom (or when weather conditions seasonally change and increase allergen counts, such as mold spore counts).
Just some of the seasonal allergies Curex’s at-home allergy testing kit tests for include:
Environmental allergies are allergies that may be triggered any time, anywhere. These allergies live in certain environments and don’t only trigger symptoms during certain seasons. Some of the most common environmental allergens may include animals, mold and dust.
Curex’s at-home allergy testing kit tests may test for the following environmental allergens:
Some people are also allergic to certain drugs, such as penicillin, antibiotics and pain relievers. Curex’s at-home allergy testing kit may test for penicillin allergies.
There are three types of allergy tests commonly used to test for seasonal, environmental and food allergies, including skin scratch tests, blood tests and at-home allergy tests. All three methods have been found effective at testing for allergies.
Depending on your suspected allergies and preferred method of testing, your doctor may recommend one of the following.
Skin scratch tests may test for allergies by inserting a small amount of an allergen underneath the skin. If allergic, the patient’s skin may react with a red ring.
These tests can test for up to 50 different allergies at the same time.
Some patients prefer not to get skin scratch tests if they have a history of contact dermatitis or anaphylaxis, as there may be a chance of both after the skin is exposed to allergens.
Blood tests may also test for a long list of allergies, including food, environmental and seasonal allergies. Patients with a higher risk of adverse reactions to skin scratch tests may choose to get a blood test instead.
Blood samples may be collected at a lab, and patients may need to make an appointment for a consultation with a doctor or allergist to get a lab referral.
Some patients that feel uneasy at the sight of blood may prefer a skin scratch test, and patients that suffer from needle phobias may prefer at-home allergy tests.
Samples for at-home allergy tests are collected at home (as the name suggests). Patients simply need to order a test online, follow the instructions and mail their sample to the lab for analysis.
Curex’s at-home allergy test kit contains lancets to self-administer simple finger pricks. Small drops of blood are collected, and blood drop collection may be easier for patients with needle phobias.
At-home allergy testing offers myriad benefits. Not only do patients not need to make an appointment or leave home to get tested for allergies, but at-home allergy tests may only require a finger prick to collect a testing sample.
One benefit of at-home allergy testing is that patients don’t need to leave home to get tested. Simply order an at-home allergy testing kit, follow the instructions and mail the sample to the lab for testing. A clinician will view the results and send them (usually within a few business days).
At-home allergy tests require a simple finger prick (testing kits may include lancets for sample collection).
If contact dermatitis or going off allergy meds, such as antihistamines and steroids, for a few days seems unbearable, an at-home allergy test may be a better option.
Skin scratch allergy testing is another popular way to test for allergies. The main downside to skin scratch tests is that they may require an in-person appointment at a doctor’s or allergist’s office.
Such tests may also cause side effects, such as contact dermatitis and possible anaphylaxis. Your doctor may ask you to remain in the office for observation or carry an epinephrine pen afterward in case of anaphylaxis.
Plus, you may need to make a consultation before getting a skin scratch test before even making the appointment. In-person appointments simply take more time than at-home finger-prick tests.
Depending on your doctor, allergist and lab, you may receive results within a few business days.
The third testing option, a blood draw, may be a better choice for patients that don’t want to get a skin scratch test for any reason.
Simply make an appointment for a consultation with your doctor and then make an appointment with a testing lab. After your consultation, you may need to make a separate trip to a lab for a blood draw.
Depending on your doctor and lab, you may receive results within a few business days.
If you suffer from hemophobia (fear of blood) or feel uneasy at the sight of blood, you may want to schedule an appointment for a skin scratch test or order an at-home testing kit instead.
If you suffer from uncomfortable symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, inflammation, redness and itching, there’s a good chance you’re suffering from allergies. Find out which allergens are causing your symptoms by taking an at-home allergy test.
In just a few steps, you can get your allergy test results — all without venturing out into the world.
Order your testing kit online, and answer a few questions to get started. Your kit will arrive at your preferred address. It contains instructions, supplies and packaging to mail your sample to the lab.
Follow the instructions in the kit to collect and package the sample.
Send your sample to the lab, using the provided labels and packaging.
Results are usually available within a few business days (though processing times may vary, so check the instructions for more exact results times).
Unless you’re interested in allergy immunotherapy, Curex won’t use your allergy test results at all! Your data is secured and you have the option of asking for your medical records to be destroyed for any reason.
If you want to move forward with allergy immunotherapy, a clinician will review your test results before making recommendations on your immunotherapy formula. Each immunotherapy dose is formulated to address certain allergens — based on allergy test results.
Patients that have already been tested for allergies may submit those test results in lieu of ordering a new allergy test.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends getting tested for allergies every two years.
Patients may send lab results to Curex directly or order an at-home testing kit through a Curex care provider.
You do not need to purchase an at-home testing kit through Curex to start allergy immunotherapy. Simply schedule an appointment with a Curex care manager online to find out how to submit your previous lab test results and learn about treatment options.