How do I prepare for my appointment?
Allergy skin tests are done on the lower forearms and occasionally on the upper arms. It is best to wear a top/shirt with sleeves that are easy to roll up or a short sleeve Tshirt. If you have asthma please bring your inhalers and aerochamber device if applicable with you. If you have eczema please bring your prescription creams. If you suspect an allergic reaction to a food eg. at a restaurant or from a store bought product please bring a copy of the full ingredient list. If you have many current medications please bring a copy of your list. Please write down your questions and bring them to the appointment to ensure they are answered. How long will the appointment last? New patients can expect to be in the office for 1 hour after seeing the doctor. We strive to keep on time and if patients are more than 20 minutes late they may need to reschedule and pay a cancellation fee. What medications do I need to stop before the appointment?
Please stop antihistamines for a minimum of 48 hours before your appointment. This includes Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Atarax (hydroxyzine), Aerius, Reactine, Allegra, Claritin. Over the counter cold and cough medications may contain an anthistamine so be sure to check. You should not stop any asthma medications, nasal steroid sprays and medications prescribed for you by your physician(s). If you have a skin condition eg. chronic hives and require daily antihistamines to control them you may continue them and come to the appointment, however, we would not be able to allergy test you that day. Chronic hives are rarely due to environmental or food allergies therefore in severe hives it would be best to remain on the antihistamines and other medications you need to control them and we would consider allergy testing if warranted when the condition is improved. What tests will I have done?
We will do allergy tests as indicated for the condition your doctor referred you for. Our tests detect IgE mediated allergy for environmental, biting insect and food allergy. We are not offering testing or consultations for venom (stinging insect or hymenoptera allergy), drug allergies, or allergy tests other than prick skin tests and when appropriate intradermal tests. We hope to expand our services in future and will keep your doctor informed. Will it be itchy?
The control test histamine causes itchiness and if you have other allergies you will have itchy spots. The itch usually resolves within one hour. Occasionally you may notice small bumps on the arm which may last up to several days. You can apply a cold compress to the area or wet cloth and take an antihistamine if it is bothersome. What are Allergy tests? (copy from AAAAI website)
For children 7 and under and under other special situations we use the Lincoln diagnostic multitest devices which prickle the arm lightly, are fast and well tolerated by children. The gold standard tests which we will use for older children, adults and in certain situations on younger children and infants consist of applying drops of allergen on the arm from commercial extracts and lightly scratching the drop so that the allergen is just under the skin. Other things you should know about allergy tests.
There is no minimum age to do accurate skin testing. Although some older literature has quoted a false negative rate of up to 20% under age one in extensive combined clinical practice at Montreal Children’s and Smyth Allergy Clinic this is a rare event. We use a positive control test (histamine) which causes a hive on purpose to ensure that the tests are working properly. If we suspect an allergy and the rare situation arises where the scratch test is negative we may need to arrange further tests with fresh extract or a blood test. If I am allergic to peanuts for example, could the allergy skin test provoke a reaction? This is rare when prick skin tests are performed by trained personnel. We are fully equipped to deal with any adverse or allergic reaction to allergy testing. What if I don’t feel well after the tests?
If you do not feel well before, during or after the tests please notify staff right away. If you have fainted or feel faint with any medical procedures please let us know in advance. You should ensure you have eaten and had water or juice before the appointment if you tend to become faint with tests. Will the allergy skin test make me more allergic to the substance in future or cause me to develop an allergy?
No. The amount of allergen used is too low. What if I did not react much to the test in the office but get a bump later on? The allergy tests are generally read 15-20 minutes after they are done. If you develop a small bump hours or days later this is not an IgE mediated reaction and does not mean you have the allergy. If you are experiencing discomfort post allergy testing not relieved by cool compresses and antihistamines you should see a doctor. What are IgE allergy blood tests?
There are commercially available blood tests for allergies, however, they can miss allergies ie. give a false negative and they are not covered by OHIP. They cost approximately $18-20/allergen and there may be a lab processing fee. They are not available at the Ottawa area hospitals. We recommend going to a Gamma Dynacare lab for these as there is no processing fee for the IgE blood tests. For patients with food allergies please refer to the AAAAI information on this topic. We do not order IgG blood tests for foods or environmental allergens. What if I am sick on the day of my appointment?
Please call and cancel if you are unwell and unable to attend your appointment. You must cancel if you or your child has fever, vomiting, diarrhea, severe cough, cough and fever not diagnosed …
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