At-home allergy tests have many advantages you can’t get from seeing an allergist – provided you could find one. As many as 10 percent of US individuals have hay fever and many more have food-related allergies, yet finding an allergist is harder than ever. According to current statistics, the US has just 1 allergist for every 85,000 US citizens, so those who have allergies need more convenient options for allergy testing.
How Does At-Home Allergy Testing Work?
At-home allergy testing involves testing your blood for the presence of antibodies against dozens of allergens. Allergens are proteins also known as foreign antigens. Rather than live with the foreign protein, your body’s immune system makes antibodies to fight against it. Few allergens are really dangerous to you but your immune system doesn’t know that.
Antibodies help you’re your body get rid of the foreign protein. Your body makes more than one kind of antibody when addressing foreign antigens. The antibodies you can identify with at-home allergy tests come in two varieties. Each antibody type acts somewhat differently in your body.
IgE antibodies are linked to hay fever and hives. They are also active in anaphylaxis and angioedema – these are the most serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions. IgG antibodies are linked to all types of normal immune reactions but are also connected to allergies if our body makes these kinds of antibodies. There are no hives or threat of anaphylaxis when IgG antibodies are involved, yet the immune system is still reacting to something it considers foreign.
Antibodies are very specific to a certain allergen. The antibodies a person makes to oak tree pollen are chemically distinct from those made against grasses, flower pollen, and other trees. By testing a person’s blood, an exact allergen can be identified if the antibody is seen against it.
At-home allergy testing involves a simple finger prick to get a few drops of your blood. Because testing has become so sensitive, it takes very little blood to see if an antibody to an allergen is present. At-home allergy tests are now designed to test for hundreds of allergens at once. Either type of antibody (IgE and IgG) seen in allergies can be found in the same blood sample.
The main benefits of an at-home allergy test are these:
At-home allergy testing can test for food allergies, environmental allergies (such as pollens, grasses, etc.), indoor allergies (such as molds and dust mites), and animal allergies (such as dogs or cats). Both IgG and IgE antibodies against an allergen can be detected.
Food allergies, in particular, may only involve the formation of IgG antibodies. Your reaction may not be severe or significant. Instead of hives or anaphylaxis, you might have bloating, nausea, diarrhea, or other vague symptoms after eating meals. Such vague symptoms make it difficult to find out which are the offending agents.
Because at-home allergy testing can test hundreds of food allergies at once, it can help you sort out the complexities of food intolerances and milder reactions that are based on your immune system’s reaction to a specific food or class of food and aren’t simple indigestion.
At-home allergy testing is a safe, quick, convenient, inexpensive, and scientifically valid method of finding out which of the millions of things in the environment or your diet that are affecting your overall health and wellness. The tests only take a few minutes to perform and give you peace of mind regarding possible allergies you can’t easily test for at a doctor’s office.