For ages, humans have had to deal with allergies. Thankfully, in recent decades, experts have been able to coin and administer a variety of tests to help pinpoint the root causes of allergies. These breakthroughs have gone so far as to offer those tests from the comfort of your own home. While the seeming ease of an at-home allergy test may initially be alluring, at South Florida Sinus and Allergy Center, we’re here to say that you might want to think twice before purchasing an at-home allergy test. Let’s explore why.
They Often Provide Inaccurate Results
When it comes to medical concerns, no one wants to sacrifice quality for convenience. According to various immunologists, this may be exactly what you are doing if you choose a home-based allergy testing procedure. Simply, most of these tests are based on testing methods that many different studies have shown to be totally inaccurate. Instead of testing for immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE), which are specifically associated with allergic reactions, most of these tests focus on immunoglobulin G (IgG, antibodies which, while abundant in the body, can rarely be counted on to reflect accurate allergies to food or other substances.
What’s more, some common home allergy tests may procure results from hair rather than a scratch test or blood test, and because there is no IgE in hair, the results are unlikely to be trustworthy.
They Don’t Distinguish Between an Intolerance and an Allergy
It’s very important to realize that there is a difference between intolerance to something and an allergy to it. An allergy is an off-target immune response. Instead of attacking a dangerous virus or bacteria, the immune system revs up all the engines and attacks…dust. Or eggs, or ragweed, or shellfish, or some other usually harmless thing. This causes the familiar allergy symptoms: rashes, itchy eyes, throat swelling, wheezing, etc.
Not all bad reactions to food are caused by food allergies. Intolerances to lactose, fructose, beef, and other foods have their roots in the digestive system, not the immune system. People with these types of intolerance are lacking the enzymes that would allow them to digest the given foods. They might feel just as sick after drinking a glass of milk as someone with a milk allergy, but they have a totally different problem.
Unfortunately, home-administered tests rarely, if ever, take this important variance into account, thus you are likely to be left in the dark about what you are experiencing is actually an allergy.
Their Results Don’t Interpret Themselves
As great as it might be to have access to self-administered tests with the knowledge and expertise of a professional, that is not the current reality. Even if the test you use does actually test for true allergens, interpreting it can be difficult, and a simple misinterpretation may compromise everything. In short, the results of an allergy test should always be interpreted by an expert for the best possible outcome.
Better Testing Methods
If this blog has you down about your ability to fight allergies, don’t fear. In the modern era of medicine, thankfully, there is now a variety of tests that can help determine the root causes behind one’s allergies. Arguably the most common is a skin test (also termed “scratch test”) in which a potential allergen or combination of allergens is introduced to the body via a patch, prick, or injection.
For patients suffering from a chronic skin condition, taking medicine which compromises test results, or testing for potentially severe allergens, allergy blood tests are a conventional alternative. While also quickly administered and tend to hurt very little, tests of the blood can often take long periods of time to determine results, and, depending on the allergen tested for, are not always as accurate or reliable as skin tests.