SEATTLE SINUS CENTER – ALLERGY
There are two types of allergy testing; the skin test and the blood test. The skin test involves 50 to 100 needle sticks up and down the arm or the back to measure a wheal and flare response from histamine reaction in the skin. This correlates with allergies. It is accurate, however it takes approximately two hours to perform and it is obviously very uncomfortable. The blood test measures antibodies in the bloodstream to specific allergens such as weed, a tree or a mold and the immune response is in direct correlation to the allergy. This is a simple blood draw that involves one needle stick and it is economical and convenient. The blood test is called in vitro allergy testing and is an extremely accurate test for specific IgE allergens. Once the tests have come back and are positive, immunotherapy (allergy shots) can be started according to the patient’s sensitivity and the amount of allergens that they are allergic to. Immunotherapy works by increasing dosage of the volume and concentration of injections according to standard treatment protocols. Patients develop IgG blocking antibodies to the IgE allergies. It takes approximately six months to develop these antibodies to where patients get improvement of their allergy symptoms. Allergy shots are usually continued for at least one year or two, escalating dosing in the first year and maintenance dosing the second year.
Dr. Portuese refers his allergy testing patients to the Northwest Allergy Lab, which is a full service reference allergy laboratory located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. The lab performs environmental and food allergy testing using blood samples through an enzyme immunosorbent assay (EIA). Northwest Allergy Lab is regulated federally by CLIA and OSHA standards and meets the federal government’s highest laboratory standards for clinical laboratory safety and testing accuracy. Northwest Allergy Lab is also a certified lab by the Washington State Department of Laboratory Quality Assurance and is a moderate complexity laboratory. The lab has an extensive portfolio of both environmental and food allergens to IgE for available testing. The most common test performed when clinically indicated is Northwest 39 panel of allergens which includes dust, mites, house dust, cats, dogs, some foods, weeds, trees, molds and grasses. The advantage of the RAST blood test is that it is a single blood draw, which is less time consuming, more convenient and less painful to the patient. In addition, this test has a low incidence of false positive results. There is no risk of anaphylaxis such as occurs with the skin testing and the results are back in just a few days. Dr. Portuese will review these test results with the patient to discuss treatment alternatives.
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