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ABOUT THE ALLERGY CENTER
The mission of our Allergy Center is to provide quality care for patients suffering from allergies. Our state of the art allergy clinic provides testing and treatment for patients throughout the Willamette Valley, whose fertile acreage has earned it the title “grass seed capital of the world” – bad news for allergy sufferers!
Our physicians are experts in allergy testing and treatment, and provide services for those suffering from allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and other seasonal and perennial allergies including mold spores, dust mites, animal dander, hives and asthma. Allergies are the result of an immune system response to an otherwise harmless substance; chemicals called histamines are released into the bloodstream and cause a number of symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and itchy or watery eyes. Allergy testing is an important step in determining which allergen is causing your reaction, and is especially useful for those patients whose symptoms do not respond to medications.
There are two main types of allergy tests: skin tests and blood tests.
Skin Prick Testing
This is the most common allergy test given, and is considered extremely reliable. A drop of solution containing the suspected allergen is placed onto the patient’s arm or back and the skin is pricked with a needle, allowing the solution to penetrate the surface. If the area shows any redness or swelling, the result is considered positive.
Intradermal Dilutional Testing (IDT)
Intradermal skin testing is similar to skin prick testing, but the allergen is injected directly into the skin with a hypodermic needle. This is a highly sensitive test in which the dosage can be gradually increased, and is useful when skin prick testing has yielded negative results but that particular allergen is still believed to be the cause.
Radioallergosorbent Testing (RAST)
Patients who are unable to tolerate skin testing can be given a blood test instead. Rather than looking for an observable skin reaction, RAST measures antibodies in the bloodstream that are produced in response to an allergen. Blood tests are less sensitive than skin tests, and results may take a few days.
Once the allergen causing a patient’s symptoms has been identified, we will begin a type of desensitization treatment known as immunotherapy. Commonly referred to as allergy shots, this involves giving the patient gradually increasing dosages of the allergen over a period of time (typically 3-5 years) until immunity is reached.