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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    allergy testing? Coping w/ no antihistamines?

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    A quick search here revealed that several folks have had allergy testing done. Maybe y'all can help me...

    I have my testing scheduled for Wednesday, have been off the Zyrtec since Thursday night, and am absolutely miserable! I've been using my neti pot twice a day (it does help), those Breathe Right nose strips, and I broke down this morning and used some antihistamine eye drops before I clawed my eyes out.

    Anything else I can try that won't interfere with the test? I don't want to go through this for nothing.... Help!

    Also, what's the testing like? What can I expect?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Uncanny Valley
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    You can take Singulair, since it blocks leukotrine only, not histamine. Hopefully they'll call you in a scrip. That period of time before the test can be awful, but it's much better with Singulair.

    My allergist does the testing on my upper arms; I think some practices still use the back (more space to work with but a bit more hassle for the patient). This is how they've done it for me for years. I don't know if other places do it differently.

    A tiny amount of each allergen is injected just below the upper skin layers, you'll wait a few minutes, and then they'll look whether a wheal was raised, and if so, measure the size of it.

    They'll start with a single injection of histamine just to make sure that you're reacting.

    Then, they'll inject you with each of the allergens you're being tested for. (Hopefully you completed a history so that they know what your potential triggers are, but if you have symptoms in every season, it may be a very long list.) They'll write on your skin to identify the allergen and the concentration.

    It's been a long time since my very first test, and I don't remember specifically, but have to guess that they start with the weakest dilution of each. (On a re-test, they start with the dilution that worked on the last test.) After you've been injected with everything, if you react to something at that concentration, IF there's a weaker dilution they'll try you with that (but as I said, with your first test, there may not be). If you don't react, or if you react very weakly, they'll try the next strongest dilution. They'll keep going until you've either gotten to the strongest dilution without a reaction, or until they find the dilution that gives you a wheal of a particular size. (I believe it's 6 mm, but not sure.) They'll go past that one dilution just to be sure. The whole thing will take 2-3 hours.

    So you'll wind up with a matrix of prick marks, itchy wheals, and pen writing. You'll have to avoid heavy sweating or washing the area for 24 hours so the writing doesn't come off (that's why doing it on your back is more hassle ). You won't be allowed to put anything on the wheals to relieve the itching. The next day, you go back to the allergist's office so they can check the wheals and make sure you didn't have a delayed reaction to anything.

    Once the testing is done you can have your first shot. They'll start at a very weak dilution of everything, and build you up gradually until you've reached your therapeutic dose of each allergen. After each shot, especially when they're building your dose, you'll have to wait around the office for about 20 minutes to make sure you don't have a severe reaction. My allergist's office does shots twice a week while I'm building my dose up (at a full dosage, it's every 5-7 days). Yours may limit you to once a week. How long it takes to build you up varies, but it's usually about 6 to 10 weeks.

    Once you're on a stable dose, your allergist MAY let you give yourself your own shots. Not all of them do...but it makes the process WAY more convenient when you don't have to go to the office every week.

    HTH. Good luck!
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 01-05-2009 at 05:24 AM.
    Trying to live every day as though it were my first

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Illinois
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    2,783
    I had 140+ pricks, seems they tested me for everything they could think of. I remember that night as being pretty uncomfortable but after that it was fine. I ended up with shots, singulair, allergy pills, an inhaler, and a prescription nasal spray...stayed on all of that until I reached maintenance dose of my shot and now only use singulair and the shots.

    Good luck with your testing, mine changed my life.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    2,693
    Thanks ladies! This is good info!

    I am currently on Singulair, and that's keeping the wheezing down. Not doing much for the faucet nose, and itchy eyes and skin. Strangely enough, I'm feeling better now that I'm at work. I can only assume that I need to do a better job of cleaning the house!

    I've been keeping notes like crazy these past few weeks about what seems to bother me, and they did send me a detailed form to complete. They failed to mention that whole "no showering for 24 hours before we reinspect you" thing....but I assumed that the night after the test would be awful. Good thing I kept my calendar clear for the day after. How long after testing before I can go back on an antihistamine?

    Oak Leaf, how often do they re-do the testing (e.g., how many more times do I have to go through this )? Good info about self-administering shots. I'm hopeful that they'll let me do that- I'll make sure to ask.

    I'm actually looking forward to having some answers about what triggers my symptoms and formulating a comprehensive plan of attack.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    I usually get re-tested every 2-4 years. Just whenever it doesn't seem like my shots are controlling my symptoms the way they should. Supposedly some people will reach a point where they can be on shots for about 2 years and then have 2 years where they don't need shots, but it's never worked that way for me. I think there was ONE allergen I didn't react to on my last test that I had reacted to before. But my level of sensitivity to different things definitely varies over the years, and that's why I get re-tested.

    You can go back on your antihistamines as soon as they've checked your wheals for a delayed reaction.

    +1 on changing my life!
    Trying to live every day as though it were my first

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Middle Earth
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    Hey there Becky - all the best with the testing and trust you get some relief asap once done.
    I haven't had testing done for years (I think I was about 11 or 12???) but my hayfever is always predictable and for years I ingested antihistimine tablets.

    I did try a course of injections in the arm one year, and I also tried homeopathic alternatives - injections in the back and cream to rub on the face.

    When pregnant I asked for a topical alternative and got eyedrops and nosesprays which occasionally needed "topping up" with tablets.

    However, at 43years, I can safely say that I am "growing out of it". This season I have not needed to take any tablets, I have not had what I term as a "bad day" (where I don't venture outside at all). I am using nosespray and eyedrops, but I would say my biggest 'defence' against hayfever is sunglasses - I wear them all the time if outside - even if driving in the evening I wear non-dark glasses. Within about 15mins of not wearing my sunnies, I have itchy eyes and my nose is beginning to run.

    Some days I forget to take my spray/drops, but wearing my sunnies all day means I have very little hayfever effects.

    All the best... and to all of you with seasonal allergies, may you grow out of it soon


    Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,
    "I will try again tomorrow".


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Santa Cruz mountains
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    217
    Flonase is a good option for nasal allergies and won't interfere with the tests.

    I've been on allergy shots (immunotolerance) for a few years now, and they have made an amazing difference in my quality of life.

    I am allergic to pretty much every kind of pollen around (tree, grass, and weed), dust and dustmites, mold, as well as various other odds and ends. I used to have a constantly stuffed and/or runny nose, couldn't go anywhere without a big wad of kleenex, and had no sense of smell. It was like permanently living with a headcold, even when taking antihistamines all the time (and I hated having side effects from them). I used to get sinus infections all the time (really sucks when you are allergic to the most common antibiotics that they want to give you too).

    After being on the shots and getting up to the maintenance dose, I no longer need any allergy medication at all, I hardly ever even need to blow my nose. It's great.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
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    Do you have carpet in your house? I suffered from really bad allergies for many years (in different apartments, but all with carpets, being apartments), and then I moved into a house with all hardwood floors, and my allergies went away. Amazing!

    I hope you get relief soon.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    WA State
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    relatively mild allergies here - I only really react badly to tree pollen so I only have severe symptoms for a few months, though I am positive for a few other things (cats - I have two..., dust mites, grass pollen)

    I had allergy testing for the first time two years ago. They started with the most common allergens doing pin pricks on my arm, then went to a few other less common things on my back. I think I only had to wait a half hour or so to have the test read. The hardest thing to do was to not scratch the positive ones.... (they rubbed a topical antihistamine all over me when they were finished)
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post
    Do you have carpet in your house? I suffered from really bad allergies for many years (in different apartments, but all with carpets, being apartments), and then I moved into a house with all hardwood floors, and my allergies went away. Amazing!

    I hope you get relief soon.
    Hardwood, with area rugs. Much better than our old apartment with wall to wall carpeting!

    Strangely enough, the nasal symptoms have quieted down somewhat since yesterday morning. At the moment, it's the itchy skin and eyes that are making me crazy. Weird....itchies aren't one of my normal symptoms....

    I slapped on an N95 dust mask last night, and vacuumed and mopped a bunch, as well as washed a bunch of pet laundry in hot water. DH was quite amused when I sent him a picture of me in my stylish mask

    Thanks for all of the well-wishes, ladies! Just 24 hours to go!

  11. #11
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    Sep 2008
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    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
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    This makes for fascinating reading. keep us posted, and good luck.
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  12. #12
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    Mar 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biciclista View Post
    This makes for fascinating reading. keep us posted, and good luck.
    Really? (The fascinating reading part, I mean. I just feel like a giant whiner at the moment!)
    Last edited by Becky; 01-06-2009 at 03:20 PM. Reason: clarification

  13. #13
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    Sep 2007
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    Uncanny Valley
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becky View Post
    I slapped on an N95 dust mask last night, and vacuumed and mopped a bunch, as well as washed a bunch of pet laundry in hot water. DH was quite amused when I sent him a picture of me in my stylish mask
    They look extra nice with sunglasses, orange earplugs and a straw hat for mowing the lawn in ragweed season.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 01-06-2009 at 12:14 PM.
    Trying to live every day as though it were my first

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    update

    I had my testing yesterday. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. They did the surface pricks, and then the shots below the skin. Evidently, I'm allergic to cats, dogs, dust mites, molds, trees, grasses, weeds, and maybe a few others that I can't remember. No great surprise by any of them.

    The nurse who took care of me was so sweet, and I like the doctor too. I can see why so many people recommended him to me. He wants me to experiment a little with my medications (stop this one, add this one, see what happens) and see if I can find a minimum combination that controls my symptoms before I see him again in May. He did give me a script for Flonase, to try as part of the experimenting. I like docs who are comfortable with the whole self-management idea.

    He did suggest allergy shots, but told me to take my time in making a decision because it's a big commitment. 3-6 months to ramp up to a maintenance dose, and then shots every 2-4 weeks for the next 3-5 years. Any input from those who've done this? I like the idea that this is a tried-and-true treatment that's been done for years and doesn't involve drugs, but it's a big commitment. The practice isn't far from my home, but it's in an area of town that I don't get to often, and I can't really bike there in time for the clinic to be open. Giving my own shots isn't an option- I asked.

    Then there's the environmental changes. I'm not giving up my pets (nor did he ask me to). I'm not sure that I can run the air conditioning half the summer, and I hate the idea of not line-drying my laundry during the summer or not going for early morning bike rides. Truthfully, the environmental/lifestyle changes are giving me more angst than the med/shots decisions.

    Thanks for reading my verbose ramblings. I welcome any input that those who've been down this path can provide!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Illinois
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    I've been at maintenance level for a few months now and it is a BIG commitment. If the location where you'll get your shots isn't convienent it will be even more challenging. Each shot takes an hour out of my day, driving to the clinic, signing in, waiting my turn, then waiting the 30 minutes for the arm check. If you feel like you can commit to it though it is a very worthwhile endeavor.

 

 

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