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Blood Testing for Allergies

Allergen Components Icon

About Blood Testing for Allergies

An allergy blood test, also called a specific IgE test, measures the concentration of specific IgE antibodies in the blood. Any detectable level of specific IgE indicates a sensitization to a specific allergen. Even a low level of sensitization may be significant if it is associated with symptoms when exposed to the specific allergen. The reverse may also be true—a patient may be sensitized to an allergen at any level but if they don’t have symptoms when exposed to the allergen, they are not clinically allergic. 

An allergy blood test is a powerful diagnostic tool that can test for hundreds of allergic triggers, such as pollen, mold, food, and animal dander. The results of your allergy blood test, together with your detailed medical history and a physical examination, will help your healthcare provider develop a customized treatment plan that's right for you.

My Symptom Profile

Not sure of your symptoms?

Create and share your personalized assessment with the interactive My Symptom Profile tool.

BLOOD TESTS VERSUS SKIN-PRICK TESTS

Unlike skin-prick testing, there's no risk that a blood test will trigger an allergic reaction. This is especially important if you or your child are at a higher risk for a life-threatening, anaphylactic reaction. And for infants and young children, a single needle prick for a blood sample may be less traumatic than the repeated scratching of a skin-prick test.

A blood test may also help your healthcare provider discover hidden risks, such as allergic reactions caused by cross-reactivity.

How accurate are blood tests for allergies?

Skin-prick tests may be more sensitive than blood tests, however, both methods are considered accurate for diagnosing allergies.1 The accuracy of a blood test vs. a skin prick test can depend on a few factors:

  • It may be more difficult to accurately interpret skin-prick test results on people with darker skin.1
  • Skin-prick tests may be affected by medications while blood tests are not.1
  • Blood tests are particularly preferable to skin testing if the patient is very young or uncooperative, has had anaphylaxis to a food, or has extensive eczema and there’s not a good place on the skin to test.2

BENEFITS OF BLOOD TESTING for allergies

There are many benefits to getting a specific IgE test:

Allergy blood testing reliability check-mark icon

Reliable

Consistently gives accurate results

Allergy blood testing easy and reliable icon

Easy and Accessible

A blood test is quick and
simple and anyone at any age
can have a blood test

Allergy blood testing wide range of allergens tested icon

Wide range

Can measure hundreds of
allergens with a single
blood sample

Allergy blood testing allergen sensitization details icon

Detailed

Detects various levels of allergen sensitization

How much do allergy blood tests cost?

The cost for a specific IgE blood test varies. Most health insurance plans cover a blood test option for allergies. To get a better idea of how much it would cost for you, contact your insurance company or take a look at these online provider options for associated cost(s) if you do not currently have health insurance.


There Are Two Types of Specific IgE Blood Tests:

Whole allergen blood tests identifying triggers icon

Whole allergen blood tests
can help identify allergic triggers and help rule allergy in or out.3-5

 

Allergen components testing to pinpoint allergenic proteins icon

Allergen component tests
can help pinpoint the allergenic proteins that may be causing your allergy symptoms.6

Watch this short video to learn more about each type.


Read on to learn more about each type.

Whole Allergen Testing

Specific IgE testing for whole allergens is used to help confirm a suspected allergy, to determine the cause of your reactions, or to rule out an allergy altogether.
 

Whole allergen testing options for blood testing graphic


Allergen component Testing

Specific IgE testing for allergen components helps to identify the specific proteins that may cause your reactions. So instead of just knowing that you're allergic to peanuts, an allergy blood test can pinpoint exactly which protein within the peanut may trigger your reaction. And knowing the specific protein to which you’re allergic can help your healthcare provider determine if you may be at risk for a more severe, systemic reaction or a mild, localized reaction. 

Allergen components may help:

1. Assess risk for systemic reactions.
2. Explain symptoms due to cross-reactivity.
3. Improve diagnostic accuracy.

Orange icon for allergen component testing option for blood test
SPECIFIC COMPONENTS: HELP DIAGNOSE YOUR SOURCE OF FOOD ALLERGY

A positive or negative specific IgE result for allergen components, along with your medical history, can give your healthcare provider important information for developing your personalized management plan. Certain components, or proteins, are associated with a higher risk of severe or systemic reaction than others. IgE levels for allergen components help estimate your level of risk for reaction by identifying the proteins to which you may react.


An allergy blood test provides a deeper understanding of your risk of reaction and could change the way your food allergy is managed. For example, a positive IgE test result to certain peanut proteins indicates that you are at risk for a systemic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, if peanuts are consumed. And a negative IgE test result to certain milk proteins may indicate that a milk-allergic child will not react to milk if baked, e.g., in cake or cookies.

Peanut Allergen Components
Specific Components: Help Take the Guesswork Out of Animal Allergy
Cat Dander Allergen Components

By pinpointing the specific proteins that may be causing your symptoms, allergen components provide a more accurate assessment of your animal or pet dander allergy. A positive or negative IgE test result to allergen components, along with your medical history, can give your healthcare provider important information for developing your personalized management plan.

An allergy blood test provides a deeper understanding of your risk of reaction and could change the way your animal allergy is managed. For example, testing with allergen components can help differentiate between reactions that are caused by a specific species, like cats, and reactions caused by cross-reactive components. This information could impact your decision to get or keep a pet.

Cross-Reactivity: Improve the Diagnosis

Cross-reactivity occurs when the proteins in one substance (e.g., pollen) are similar to the proteins in another (e.g., fruit and vegetables).  And your body can’t tell the proteins apart, so your immune system can react to both. So while you may have a confirmed sensitization to, say, birch pollen, your body might recognize and react to similar proteins in an apple and thus trigger allergic symptoms.

Specific IgE testing for allergen components can help your healthcare provider identify the proteins that may be causing your reactions, which can make allergy management more effective. 

Allergen cross-reactivity test with food allergy and tree pollen allergy graphic
Consultation with healthcare provider for blood allergy testing icon


HOW DO YOU GET TESTED FOR ALLERGIES?

CONSULT WITH YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER TODAY

By revealing your precise allergies, and determining which proteins you are sensitized to, allergy blood testing may be able to help confirm your triggers and help optimize your allergy management plan.

Not sure of your symptoms? 

Create and share your personalized assessment with the interactive My Symptom Profile tool.

My Symptom Profile

Make the most of your appointment
Talk to your healthcare provider about specific IgE blood testing.

Use these questions to help your healthcare provider understand what’s going on with your symptoms. Review your answers together during your office visit to decide if specific IgE blood testing is right for you.

Help your healthcare provider understand what’s been going on with your symptoms and decide if specific IgE blood testing is right for you!

Start Questionnaire

Here Is Your Recap. Now What?

What can your My Symptom Profile tell you about allergies? Nothing, by itself. So resist the temptation to self-diagnose. Treating allergy symptoms with over-the-counter medications or other remedies without determining the cause could lead to more issues in the long run. When paired with testing, such as specific IgE blood testing for food or respiratory allergies, your My Symptom Profile can guide your healthcare provider in creating a customized trigger-management plan to help reduce exposure to suspected allergens.

What symptoms are you experiencing or have you experienced?

Do your symptoms get worse during a particular time?

Do you notice your symptoms more in certain places?

How long have your symptoms been present?

Finished!

Select all that apply
Runny nose
Sneezing
Fatigue
Diarrhea
Itchy eyes
Wheezing
Chest tightness
Abdominal cramps
Itchy mouth
Difficulty breathing
Red, itchy patches of skin
Constipation
Scratchy throat
Select all that apply
In the morning
At nighttime
In the fall
In the spring/summer
In winter or when temperatures drop
After eating certain foods
When sick
During or after exercise
Other
Select all that apply
At home
At school/work
Outdoors
Indoors
Around pets or animals
Select one
Since birth
Less than 1 week
More than 6 weeks
For several years

Download a PDF of your results to help guide your conversation and maximize your time with your healthcare provider.

OR
Download Results
References
  1. Siles RI. Allergy blood testing: A practical guide for clinicians. Clev Clin J Med. 2011;78(9):585-592.

 

  1. MedicalNewsToday, “Are RAST or skin tests better for allergies?” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321520. Accessed April 2020.
  2. National Eczema Association, “Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis and Allergies: What Is The Connection?” https://nationaleczema.org/atopic-dermatitis-and-allergies-connection/. Accessed April 2020.
  3. Adapted from Duran-Tauleria E, Vignati G, Guedan MJ, et al. The utility of specific immunoglobulin E measurements in primary car. Allergy. 2004;59 Suppl 78:35-41.
  4. Adapted from Niggemann B, von Berg A, Bollrath C, et al. Safety and efficacy of a new extensively hydrolyzed formula for infants with cow’s milk protein. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2008;19:325-31.
  5. Eigenmann PA, Atanaskovic-Markovic M O’B Hourihane J, et al. Testing children for allergies: why, how, who and when; an updated statement of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) Section of Pediatrics and the EAACI-Clemens von Pirquet Foundation. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2013;24:195-209.
  6. Canonica GW, Ansotegui I, Pawankar R, et al. A WAO – ARIA - GA2 LEN consensus document on molecular-based allergy diagnostics. World Allergy Organ J. 2013;6:17.

 

MSP