A wide variety of things may cause an allergic reaction. Allergies can be traced to exposure to a certain food, pollen, medications, latex, metal allergy (such as Nickel), chemicals or a wide variety of other items. In some cases, the reason for the allergic reaction is not known, but it can often be determined through testing.
There are several different tests that can be done to determine what is causing an allergic reaction. Prick tests, used to check for pollen, food, medication, or latex allergies, create tiny entry points on the back for suspected allergens. The skin’s reaction to the different substances will help the doctor determine what is causing the allergic reaction. If the standard battery of prick tests does not reveal the cause of the allergic reaction, a custom prick test may yield the necessary information. In a skin patch test, various chemicals are tested when a patch containing the chemicals is applied to the upper back. The patch is removed after 48-72 hours and the doctor then reads the results.
Allergic reactions are treated on a case-by-case basis according to the patient’s specific allergies. For pollen allergy, some patients have great success with regular allergy shots, while others may be helped best with sublingual allergy drops. If necessary, patients can undergo drug desensitization so that they can tolerate medications that are necessary for their well-being. Patients who have severe allergic reactions may need to carry epinephrine injectors with them at all times. These injections can be used in cases of accidental exposure to an allergen to reverse anaphylaxis. Patients who have both asthma and allergies may need to use a combination of treatments for the best results; for example, they may use an asthma inhaler daily along with regularly scheduled allergy shots.