Information updates

Allergy testing and avoidance of allergic triggers is an important part of allergy and asthma management

Apr 2, 2017 

A media report on the Weekend Sunrise program has caused considerable confusion and misunderstanding about the role of allergy testing, with possible dangerous consequences if food allergy testing is performed without medical supervision in people at risk of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).

Here are the facts:

1. Allergy testing should only be performed under medical supervision using proven methods (skin prick tests or blood tests for allergen-specific IgE) in individuals with suspected food, medication or insect allergy, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and/or asthma.

2. Allergy test results cannot be used on their own and must be considered together with an individual's clinical history. This combined information helps doctors confirm which substances individuals are allergic to, so that appropriate avoidance advice can be given. For example when an individual has had a suspected or actual allergic reaction to a nut, nut allergy should be confirmed with an allergy test. It is not necessary to test for, or avoid nuts which the individual is known to have eaten without reaction.

3. Oral allergen challenge testing for food or medication allergy (under medical supervision) may be required to confirm diagnosis. This is usually performed under the supervision of an allergy/clinical immunology specialist with appropriate resuscitation facilities immediately available. For example, in the case of positive allergy tests to nuts, the individual should avoid eating the nuts until proven non-allergic by medically supervised oral allergen challenge.

4. Allergy tests should not be used for screening. It is possible for some individuals to be sensitised to an allergen, and have a positive allergy test, but have no clinical symptoms.

For further information go to:

www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-testing 
www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy

The published study that the media report was based on is available at:

www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(17)30112-6/pdf 

 

Content updated 2 April 2017

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