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Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Services 133 Littleton Road, Suite 103
Westford, MA 01886

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I have allergy testing at my initial visit?

Allergy testing is usually performed at the initial visit, if possible. Some things that may prevent testing at the initial visit include recent use of an antihistamine medication, moderate to severe eczema, current hives or dermatographism or current/recent wheezing, asthma exacerbation or airway inflammation. Please refer to the skin testing page for a list of antihistamines that should be discontinued if allergy testing is desired.

Why do I need to follow up for asthma or allergies if I am feeling better?

Once we get your asthma &/or allergies under control, we need to keep them under control. This requires re-evaluating symptoms, environmental triggers and medications. Sometimes maintenance medications are required long term, however we always re-evaluate to see if we are able to decrease or discontinue medications.

I have a known food allergy. Why do I need to follow up annually?

We will periodically repeat allergy skin and blood testing for food allergies. This sometimes occurs annually, but sometimes less often.

Even if we do not plan to repeat testing, an annual follow up is important to review the food allergy action plan. We will review/reinforce food label reading, food allergen avoidance, epinephrine device (Epipen, Auvi-Q) use, and what to do in case of an accidental exposure.

Why are my seasonal allergy symptoms worse this year?

Your body’s response to an allergen can increase or decrease over time, so symptoms can change.

Pollen counts can vary from year to year. Weather plays a direct role in the severity and length of an allergy season.

a) A mild winter can signify an early allergy season, since the trees tend to start pollinating earlier.
b) Dry, windy weather spreads pollen quickly, producing a higher distribution of pollen and increasing allergy symptoms.
c) A late freeze can delay tree pollination, producing lower pollen counts.
d) Rain can reduce the pollen count by washing pollen from the air.

What is the difference between blood test and skin testing for allergies?

Allergy blood testing (looking at specific IgE antibodies) and skin prick testing can both be performed to look for allergic sensitization to foods, environmental allergens and bee venoms. Skin prick testing is more cost effective and sensitive than Immunocap testing.

Some indications for performing blood testing (Immunocap) instead of skin testing include recent antihistamine use, dermatographism or current hives, extensive eczema, and history of severe food reaction.

Allergy blood testing can be performed while a patient is taking antihistamines, whereas skin testing cannot be performed while a patient is taking antihistamines.

Should I have food allergy testing performed as a screening test (no history of clinical reaction)?

No. Both skin testing and allergy blood testing can show false positive results when food allergy testing is performed without a history of a clinical reaction.