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Allergy Testing that's Easier for the Patient

Allergy Testing that's Easier for the Patient

Anyone who has had allergy testing has probably been through the experience of going to a lab and having blood collected from their arm, with the blood tested separately for each allergen, (the substance that may be causing the allergic reaction). Or the patient has an allergy “scratch test” where different allergens are tested by scratching a small incision on the patient’s skin. These methods of allergy testing take time, may involve a trip to the lab, and the provider must select the specific allergens to be tested. Sometimes it takes many different tests to determine exactly what allergies the patient has.

Campbell County Memorial Hospital's Laboratory implemented a new allergy test nearly two years ago that requires a much smaller blood sample with more comprehensive results. When a provider orders the Spiriplex allergy test, Allergenex, only four drops of blood are needed. The sample is tested for 68 of the most common food and environmental allergens, like dust mites, weeds and grasses, eggs and peanuts. Patients as young as six months old can be tested, and each sample is tested separately three times for better accuracy.

The test also detects sensitivity, or things the patient is slightly allergic to, which can be difficult to diagnose if the patient isn’t experiencing significant symptoms. Sometimes knowing what patients can eat or be around in the environment is just as important as knowing what they cannot.

The test results, along with the patient’s history, physical exam, and symptoms, help the provider create a successful diagnosis and treatment plan.

Berina Bear, a Medical Technologist in the CCMH Laboratory, was one of the first patients to have the Spiriplex allergy test. She sometimes had trouble breathing and was having migraine headaches, so she saw local ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Ian Swift in Gillette, Wyoming. Her symptoms of stomach problems, and an itchy throat after eating certain foods suggested allergies, not sinus problems. Dr. Swift performed a scratch test in his office, but suggested Berina have the Allergenex test as well.

“I was allergic to all but four things in the food section,” Berina said. “I changed my diet and stopped eating the foods I was allergic to, and I lost 20 pounds in three months.”

Berina also found out that she had sensitivities, or less severe allergies to foods like peanuts, and respiratory allergens like dog hair. And, because she knows which foods trigger symptoms, she’s had fewer migraines.

“It’s been a relief to know what you’re allergic to,” said Berina.

For more information, visit www.cchwyo.org/lab.

Pictured: Berina Bear, who recently had the Spiriplex allergy test, Allergenex,available at the CCMH Laboratory.