Millions of people in the US live with allergy symptoms every day. They sneeze, wheeze, cough, sniffle, wipe watery eyes and scratch rashes without realizing that allergies are the cause of their symptoms. It doesn’t have to be that way. Allergies may be a chronic condition, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be controlled with the proper treatment plan.
Don’t let allergies limit your life
For those of us living in the Baton Rouge area, our environment can be a blessing and a curse. Our warm and humid climate makes for mild winters and an abundance of indoor and outdoor allergens.
Our outdoor environment is rich with allergy triggers such as mold, pollen and dust. We’ve got trees in the spring, grass in the summer, ragweed in the fall and cypress in the winter to provide an abundance of airborne allergens. The proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and freshwater rivers and lakes provides a bounty of fish and shellfish that can trigger allergic reactions. Dust mites love our humid environment, and no matter how much we clean, we can’t eliminate dust mite and pet allergens from our homes.
The first step in controlling your allergic reactions is to identify your triggers. Once you know the allergens that impact your life, you can reduce your symptoms by reducing or eliminating your exposure and sensitivity.
The ENT doctors at Louisiana Ear Nose Throat and Sinus (LENTS) provide complete allergy testing to identify your triggers and will work with you to create an allergy action plan that allows you to live your life to the fullest.
Types of allergy testing
The ENT doctors and allergy professionals at LENTS use a combination of the most reliable forms of allergy testing to identify and quantify your allergies. MQT (modified quantitative testing) is considered the safest and most accurate method of testing. LENTS uses a combination of scratch tests and intradermal testing in an MQT protocol that provides detailed results to identify the size and scope of your allergies.
Scratch tests challenge your immune system to identify reactions to the most common triggers in our Baton Rouge area. This includes dust mites, molds, pollens, animal dander and foods.
First, the skin is cleansed to remove any contaminants. Then a small amount of the allergen extract is introduced using a micro-incision. The incision is so small there is no bleeding and the procedure causes no more than brief mild discomfort for most patients.
The “scratched” area is monitored for swelling. If a bump or wheal develops, this indicates a sensitivity to the allergen. As a control, histamine and saline are also tested to determine your baseline reaction.
Some allergens, such as antibiotics or insect venom, only trigger a reaction when inserted under the skin. For these allergens, very small needles are used to inject the reagent under the skin. Like with scratch tests, a bump or wheal indicates a reaction.
Allergy testing FAQ
It’s common to have questions before undergoing testing and treatment for a chronic condition. At LENTS, our allergy team listens carefully to your questions, explains your treatment options fully, and responds to your concerns. Here are answers to some of the questions we are asked most often.
- Is the allergy testing process safe? Absolutely! We only use a small amount of the allergen reagent to challenge your sensitivity. And be assured that during the testing procedure, we carefully monitor you for adverse reactions and are prepared with medical interventions. Adverse or extreme reactions are rare and easily controlled in our medical setting.
- Do the needles hurt? Most of our patients report mild discomfort during the procedure. However, this discomfort doesn’t reach the level of pain.
- How do I prepare for testing? It’s important that you let us know all prescribed and over-the-counter medications and supplements you take. If you take allergy medication (prescribed or over the counter), be sure to let us know. You may need to discontinue use before testing, so we get the most accurate results.
- Will my insurance pay for allergy testing? Most private and marketplace insurance coverage pays for allergy testing and allergy treatment. Be sure to check with your carrier to determine if a referral is required and what types of allergy treatment are covered.
Your personal allergy treatment plan
The purpose of allergy testing is to create an allergy action plan that is as individual as your fingerprint. Before you leave the office, you’ll know the results of your allergy tests. These results provide the basis for your unique treatment plan. The appearance and size of each reaction will be interpreted for you by a member of the LENTS allergy team.
Once we identify your triggers, your personalized treatment plan is created using one or more of these common treatment methods:
- Avoidance: The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid the allergen. If you have food allergies, you’ll know what foods to avoid. If you have dust mite or pet allergies, you’ll be instructed on how to reduce or eliminate your exposure to these indoor allergens.
- Medication: Some allergy symptoms require management with medication that reduces your symptoms.
- Immunotherapy: Allergy shots or allergy drops addresses the source of your allergic reactions. By reducing your immune response, you can obtain long-term allergy relief.
- ENT intervention: Your allergy issues may cause major symptoms that interfere with your quality of life. ENT interventions (surgical and nonsurgical) may help with chronic sinusitis, persistent infections and sleep problems related to your allergies.