Updated 07 July 2014

Allergy tests that work

Not all allergy tests are created equal and there are many bogus food sensitivity and allergy testers out there that make money out of desperate people. Here are the allergy tests that are worth investing in.

In a previous article we discussed allergy tests that are available to the general public, but don't actually work.

The tests below are used by doctors and often by registered homeopaths and have been proven to provide a better result in determining whether you are allergic to certain foods or not.

1. Skin prick test

A needle prick deposits the allergy serum in the skin. The area around the prick will either become red and swollen or not react at all.

The former is regarded as a positive result for the allergen. The test doesn’t measure the delayed allergic reaction that indicates a certain type of sensitivity to an allergen. For this the PATCH test is required.

Read: How to prevent an allergic reaction

2. RAST/UniCAP IgE blood tests

These measure IgE antibody levels in the blood. There are two kinds: a total or a specific RAST test. Usually both are done so a full diagnostic history can be used to make a diagnosis.

3. CAST (Cellular Allergen Stimulation Test)

This blood test has been available for the past 10 years. It isn’t a good test for a food or pollen allergy and is mostly used to test allergies to preservatives, medications and food additives.

Read: How allergies are diagnosed

4. Atopy Patch Test (PATCH)
This tests for delayed food allergies and hypersensitivity. Small containers of fresh food are glued to the skin for 24 hours, after which skin inflammation reaction is analysed. This test is especially useful in diagnosing allergies in eczema sufferers.

Dr Neil Gower, national secretary of the Homeopathic Association of South Africa, says the association doesn’t support the use of any unregistered machines, computer programmes, techniques or tests to diagnose allergies and illnesses “especially when the people using them aren’t registered practitioners”.

Read more:

Everything you need to know about allergies
Allergy tests that don't work
Allergy testing scams exposed

Image: patch test for food allergies, Shutterstock

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Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies. obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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