An allergy is a reaction of your immune system to something (a substance in the environment, food, etc. called an allergen) that does not bother most people. Having an allergy can be inconvenient because an allergic reaction can disrupt your daily activities and, in severe cases, can even be fatal. Going for allergy testing is one way to deal with allergies. Singaporeans, like people in any other country, are prone to a variety of allergies, thus visiting an allergy test clinic in town is a sound idea.
According to reports, one in every three people has an allergic reaction. Here are the allergies that is mostly suffered by people in Singapore:
- Dust mite allergy
Dust mite allergies are brought on by the little pests known as dust mites, which are generally present in household dust and eat the skin flakes that humans and animals shed (dander). When dust mite waste products are inhaled, allergic reactions frequently result which can aggravate asthmatic symptoms for some. In many homes, dust mites can live on mattresses, beddings, carpets, and curtains. Symptoms of a dust mite allergy include nasal inflammation, which commonly includes runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery, or red eyes, nasal congestion, nasal, oral, or throat discomfort, coughing, and in children, frequent nose rubbing.
- Pollen allergy (Hay fever)
Pollen allergy is caused by pollen which is a fine, powdery particle produced by some trees, flowers and grass to reproduce. Pollen is spread by the wind, or insects or some animals and is a natural and essential process of life and can quite be a misery for some people with seasonal allergies. Pollen allergy affects nearly a quarter of Singaporeans and is common in children aged 4 to 7 years old. Some of the symptoms people with pollen allergy develop when breathing air heavy with pollen are runny nose, watery eyes, congested nasal passages, sneezing, wheezing, and itchy throat and nose. In some instances, people with asthma and pollen allergy may develop more serious symptoms.
- Pet allergy
Pet allergies ensue when some are exposed to dander, fur/hair/feathers, saliva and urine from pets which contain some form of allergens. Common pets that can trigger an allergic reaction are cats, dogs and rabbits. Like other allergic reactions, those with pet allergy can experience inflammation of the nasal passages such as runny nose and nasal congestion and also experience skin reactions like hives or rashes.
- Peanut, tree nut and seed allergy
Some people may develop allergic reactions to proteins found in peanuts, tree nuts or seeds. Symptoms include hives, itchy skin, vomiting and pain in the stomach. Peanut/tree nut/ seed allergy can also result in severe allergic reactions that could be fatal (a.k.a. anaphylaxis) with symptoms such as breathing difficulties, swollen tongue and/or swollen or tight throat, hoarse voice, persistent coughing or wheezing, persistent dizziness, and/or collapse.
- Shellfish allergy
Shellfish allergy is an allergy triggered when animals such as prawns, shrimp, crabs, scallops, clams and octopus are eaten or come into contact with.Skin rashes, itching, and tongue and mouth swelling are the typical symptoms of shellfish allergy.
Symptoms of allergic reactions can be severe and one should be more careful so as not to trigger allergies. There might be cases where you cannot identify what causes your allergic reactions and allergy testing is one way to help find the specific allergen.
Your doctor will determine the type of allergy testing that should be used. The doctor will require important details about your family history, habits and lifestyle, as well as details about your symptoms, including when and how they occur, what you suspect causes them, etc., in order to decide which test is best for you. Here are the types of allergy testing offered in Singapore:
- Allergy Blood Test
This type of allergy test measures the amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in the body which is produced by our immune system when viruses, bacteria and, in case of an allergic reaction, allergens are detected. Testing IgE in blood currently can determine a lot of allergens. This can be performed via two ways: to measure total IgE in the blood and to measure the levels of IgE produced as a response to a specific allergen where each allergen that may be causing your allergies is tested separately. The manner of doing the test will just involve getting blood test samples (usually from the arm vein) using a needle which can be done within 5 minutes time. There are no specific preparations required prior to an allergy blood test. Results are ready after a week.
- Skin Prick Test
Skin prick test, alternatively called puncture test, is a type of allergy test which can immediately identify the allergic response of the body to 40-50 different substances in just one test. This test allows the doctor to precisely identify the allergen triggers such as pollen, mold, certain food, pet dander, etc. This test is used for both adults and children.
In Singapore, the tests are usually performed by a nurse or similar health professional and the results are analyzed by the doctor. This is how skin prick test is typically done: the patient’s arm is first sterilized using alcohol; the areas targeted is marked-out to be able to locate the testing zones of each allergen; a skin applicator will then be used to introduce tiny amounts (drops) of allergen in the skin via small pricks; the nurse will then examine the skin and record any indications of allergic responses (e.g., itchy, red bumps in the skin) about 15 minutes after the skin pricks. The results are usually released after 20 minutes.
- Skin Patch Test
Skin patch test is a type of allergy test used to determine if a certain substance will cause skin inflammation (i.e. contact dermatitis) as a form of allergic reaction This type of test can determine reactions that take several days to develop. The test does not use needles to introduce the allergens but uses patches containing about 20-30 extracts that are placed over the skin of the arm or back. The patches are worn for 48 hours and removed at the doctors clinic. The results of a patch test could take several days or longer to appear.
If the tests reveal that you may have an allergy, your doctor may recommend a treatment plan or may refer you to a more specialized doctor. Your treatment plan will be determined by what you are allergic to as well as the severity of your symptoms. Medication, immunotherapy, dietary changes, or alterations to your living or working environment may all be part of your treatment plan for allergies.
Dr Ben Medical @ Raffles Place/ Tanjong Pagar
SBF Center Medical Suites
160 Robinson Road
#03-09 SBF Center Medical Suites
+65 888 12344 | +65 888 12344