Allergy Testing & Treatment

Allergy Testing at Pacifica ENT

Otolaryngology-head and neck surgery specialist Dr. Sarah Vakkalanka with Pacifica ENT in Huntington Beach and Orange County, California, offers her patients their best hope for managing allergies — testing to identify allergens. By figuring out what causes allergic reactions, Dr. Vakkalanka can help her patients develop plans to manage the problem and improve the quality of their lives with better treatment options.

What is an allergy test?

Allergy tests use skin or blood to determine what causes an allergic reaction such as:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inflammation of the face
  • Inflammation of the throat and mouth

For some people, allergies are little more than a nuisance, but for others, they can be disabling and even life-threatening.

How are allergy tests conducted?

There are 2 types of allergy tests:

  • Skin
  • Blood

Skin tests are the most common, because they cost less. A blood test relies on a lab to read the results, but a skin test is clearly visible without any additional costs.

How do skin tests work?

During a skin test,  Dr. Vakkalanka or a member of her staff places a small amount of a suspected allergen on the skin to see if it causes a reaction. This is done in one of 3 ways:

Skin Prick

With a skin-prick test, the allergen is dissolved in a solution. A series of pricks or scratches are made in the skin and the solution placed on them. If the skin gets red and itchy, that indicates a positive reaction.


The intradermal test is similar but instead of pricking or scratching the skin surface, the solution is injected into the skin. This test tends to be more sensitive and can lead to false-positives.

Skin Patch

During a skin-patch test, the solution containing the allergen is placed on a pad and the pad is taped to the skin. The patch is left in place for up to 3 days. If the skin gets reds and itchy, this indicates an allergy exists.

How are blood tests done?

With a blood test, the lab looks for antibodies that indicate a reaction. When you’re exposed to something your immune system decides is dangerous, it creates flags, called antigens. The flags serve to notify the system if these same allergens show up again. The presence of antibodies in the blood indicates a positive reaction, but the test isn’t as foolproof as a skin test.

Why do you need allergy tests?

Allergy tests pinpoint what’s causing reactions, and specifically, what you’re allergic to and how you react to it. With this information, Dr. Vakkalanka is better able to devise a treatment plan to help you deal with the allergy.

How can allergy shots help?

Once an allergy has been confirmed, your doctor may recommend allergy shots. The form of immunotherapy treatment involves injections of whatever you’re allergic to. Over time, the amount injected increases, which can help you gradually become less sensitive to the allergen. While they don’t work for all allergies, they may work well if you’re allergic to bees or other stinging insects, dust, pets, or pollen.

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