Why Allergy and Sensitivity Testing Should Be a Part of Your Routine Testing
- January 31, 2023
A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that over 40% of American adults have allergies. Lactose intolerance, the most common food sensitivity, affects 36% of people in the US. With such high numbers, you likely regularly help patients with known and unknown allergies or food sensitivities. As products of intricate immune and enzyme responses, allergies and sensitivities can change drastically and unexpectedly. For a full picture of your patient’s health, closely monitoring their dietary and environmental intolerances is essential. Regular allergy and food sensitivity testing is an effective way for healthcare providers to offer the best care to their patients.
New Allergies and Sensitivities
Allergies and sensitivities impact each person differently. The increased production of IgG antibodies, a long-lasting immune system response to a detected allergen, results from a complex combination of internal processes. Unlike the allergic reactions mediated by IgE antibodies, often symptomized by hives and anaphylaxis, IgG-mediated immune responses may seem less significant. Food sensitivities usually manifest as mild gastrointestinal discomfort, including bloating, constipation, cramping, and abdominal pain. However, the activity of IgG antibodies is integral to immune health. Most food allergies are mediated by IgG antibodies rather than IgE antibodies. IgG testing remains the first choice for isolating the majority of allergens.
Allergies and food sensitivities are famously erratic. Specific food sensitivities can arise suddenly, with little or no genetic predisposition. Without any significant lifestyle change, patients can develop both uncommon and common food allergies, environmental allergies, and food sensitivities. Additionally, as described in the total allergen load concept, symptoms fluctuate depending on several environmental and internal factors. Combined with varied symptoms, allergies, and sensitivities can, consequently, be difficult to diagnose. Nevertheless, these erratic or seemingly minor sensitivities challenge the immune response inappropriately. By disrupting immune health, untreated allergies, even when largely asymptomatic, take a significant toll on patient health.
Sudden, life-threatening intolerance and allergy symptoms can unexpectedly affect your patients. Regular allergy testing is the most effective way to anticipate new allergies. Additionally, due to the wide variety of different intestinal and immune responses, regular testing is an effective tool for diagnosing new or seemingly unrelated ailments.
Patients with a medical history of severe allergic reactions and food intolerances can particularly benefit from regular blood testing. Old allergies and intolerances can fade just as inexplicably as new ones appear. In many cases, patients can outgrow intolerances. According to Mayo Clinic, 60 to 80 percent of children with a milk or egg allergy outgrow the allergy by the time they’re 16. Other common and uncommon food allergens and sensitivities, such as gluten and dairy products, can also be outgrown.
However, patients with long-term allergies and sensitivities may continue to avoid certain types of food, unaware that their adverse reactions to the food’s proteins have faded. Consistent food intolerance tests are a safe way to check tolerance levels for patients with severe reactions and, possibly, re-introduce old allergens into their diet or environment.
Patients interested in immunotherapy must have their allergies carefully monitored.
Environmental and food allergy testing is central to starting immunotherapy. Before an allergist can authorize immunotherapy, a blood test requiring their patient’s allergies is required to proceed. More generally, a consistent record of allergies, IgG antibodies, and sensitivities informs decisions about immunotherapy and other allergy treatment options.
Additionally, since patients may relapse shortly after immunotherapy, sensitivity testing is helpful for determining the effectiveness of treatment and quickly isolating persistent sensitivities. As sensitivities can reemerge months or years after immunotherapy, consistent testing for those sensitivities, even after treatment has concluded, is recommended for best results.
Asthma and Other Health Difficulties
A study from the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology revealed that children with allergies are at least twice as likely to have asthma. Many asthma symptoms, including asthma attacks, can be worsened by IgG-mediated allergies. Unexpected adverse reactions, including the overproduction of histamine, can cause significant health crises for severe asthma patients. Allergy and sensitivity test results, therefore, reveal crucial information for the care of asthma patients.
Likewise, eczema can be exacerbated by allergies. Both food and environmental allergens have been known to cause flare-ups in eczema patients. Those with eczema should be regularly tested as additional protection against new potential allergens.
Although celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, not an allergy, those with the disease are at a greater risk for developing asthma and reacting poorly to detected allergens. As a result, regularly testing for additional allergies and sensitivities can be helpful for managing the health of celiac patients.
Finding the Right Testing Facility
With so many common trigger foods and environmental allergens, regular allergy and sensitivity testing is a cornerstone for maintaining your patients’ health. At AML, our team runs comprehensive IgG antibody panels using a single blood sample. Allergy and sensitivity testing has never been easier for you and your patient. Whether you’re concerned about tree nuts or lactase production, Access Medical Lab’s tests are primed to help healthcare professionals, dietitians, and allergists help their patients. Explore our allergE+ and foodAnalyzer tests for further information.