(Caring & Treating Since 2005)
Allergy Testing & Treatment Services in Singapore
What is Allergy
Allergy is a common condition that can happen at any age, where the person’s own immune system overreacts with substances that are usually harmless for most people.
These allergens include house dust mites, pollen, moulds (fungi), pet danders, insect sting/bites, a certain type of medicines and foods.
Allergy is more common in people with atopy (genetic/hereditary tendency for allergy), family and personal history of allergic rhinitis, eczema and asthma.
Our list of Allergy Services
What is an Allergy Reaction?
When exposed to allergens, the immune reaction is triggered. Hence, the person with allergy will produce antibodies called IgE antibodies, which trigger the release of a chemical known as histamine.
Histamine is responsible for various inflammatory symptoms that can be uncomfortable and distressing such as
- Rashes ( eg. eczema flare ups),
- swelling of face/ lips/around the eyes, throat and tongue,
- runny or blocked nose,
- itchy watery eyes,
- abdominal pain,
- vomiting, and diarrhoea,
- wheezing, asthma, and even difficulty in breathing.
IgE mediated allergy symptoms typically appear within 1-2 hours after exposure to the particular allergens.
Sometimes, allergic reactions can be very serious and potentially life-threatening, a condition known as anaphylaxis.
Patients with a history of anaphylaxis, especially due to food allergy, are usually prescribed an emergency adrenaline injection, known as Epipen Injection, as delayed intervention can be fatal.
These patients are educated on how to use the injection and the importance of carrying it with them all the time. Hence, It is crucial to identify the potential allergy so that we can try to avoid and reduce exposure to the particular allergens.
Who Do We Test for Allergy?
IgE blood test or Skin Prick Test
Allergy can be diagnosed via an IgE blood test or skin prick test.
These 2 tests can test for both food and non-food allergies.
IgE Blood test :
As mentioned before, for persons with atopy, the immune system produces IgE antibodies against certain allergens. Therefore we can detect these specific IgE antibodies in a blood test.
A wide range of allergens can be tested via a single blood test in one sitting. It usually takes about 1 week for results to be ready. No special preparation is necessary prior to blood test.
Skin prick test :
Skin prick test can also be done if patients prefer to obtain results on the same day. It is a simple, quick and accurate test to diagnose allergy.
Skin prick test is usually done on the inner forearm or upper back ( small children).
Small markings will be drawn on the skin and tiny drops of allergens applied onto the skin.
The allergens are introduced into the skin via tiny lancets that barely penetrates the skin surface.
Will it be painful?
Apart from mild discomfort, most patients tolerate the procedure well.
There will certainly be no bleeding during the procedure. For patients with sensitivity to the particular allergen, they will likely experience some itch and mild irritation over the test area.
How long does it take?
Results will be ready within 15-20 minutes once procedure completed.
The doctor will look for a specific skin reaction, that appear as red, raised and itchy bumps, known as wheals. Size of the wheals will be measured and measurements more than 3mm is indicative of an allergic reaction.
Is this Skin Allergy Test safe?
Skin prick test is a very safe test. The amount of allergens tested on the skin is very minimal.
The test is only performed in the clinic so that our doctor will be able to monitor and look out for a possible severe allergic reaction. Severe reaction to skin prick test is extremely rare.
Is Skin Prick Test suitable for Everyone?
Skin prick test may not be suitable for those who have had life-threatening allergic reactions to certain allergens because the test would be too risky for them.
It is also not suitable if you suffer from severe eczema or psoriasis on the areas that will be used for skin prick test, or if you are unable to stop oral anti-histamine medication prior to the test.
An IgE blood test will be a suitable alternative for these patients.
There are several ways we can deal with allergy :
We can try our best to avoid the offending allergen, however, most times, it is just not feasible to avoid certain allergens especially inhalant allergens. Avoidance alone is usually inefficient.
2) Anti-allergic drugs
Medications like oral antihistamines, oral decongestants, nasal sprays and corticosteroids can help ease or reduce symptoms caused by allergy as long as the symptoms are not serious or life-threatening. However, they do not treat the allergy condition.
This means symptoms typically appear again when you stop taking the drugs
For example, dust mites allergy is very common in those with allergic rhinitis. It is almost impossible to avoid dust mites completely, hence, patients will usually have to be on long term medications for symptom control.
3) Sublingual immunotherapy ( SLIT)
Immunotherapy is the only treatment that is capable of treating the root cause of the allergy.
This therapy works by desensitizing and downregulating the body’s reaction towards a specific allergen that is responsible for producing symptoms. Hence, gradually modifying the body’s allergic responses over time.
This is accomplished by intentional regular exposure of the specific allergens administered via under the tongue ( sublingual spray).
Sublingual immunotherapy significantly improves quality of life, reduces consumption of medications, and also reduces the risk of developing asthma and new allergies in the future.
Clinical papers show success rates of SLIT up to 80%, especially for inhaled allergens.
Improvement of symptoms can be seen as early as 2-3 months from the start of the therapy. It is recommended duration of treatment is 3-5 years, hence, a firm commitment from the patient is necessary to help determine the success of treatment. Persistent effects from immunotherapy have been documented to last up to 10 years.
Symptoms can relapse if treatment is stopped prematurely.
How to use Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)?
2 sprays under the tongue daily are all that is needed. Generally, we advise patients to avoid eating or drinking in the first 15 minutes after the spray to allow maximum efficacy of the treatment on the administered area. It has a pleasant pineapple taste
How Safe is SLIT?
Sublingual immunotherapy is safe for children as young as 2 years old. Only about 1% of patients report temporary mild itching/ tingling under the tongue which resolves within 1 week.
SLIT is strongly recommended in the World Allergy Organization (WAO) clinical studies.
If you are keen to find out more about Allergy Treatment or Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), please call +65 6962 7144, or visit our Raffles Place & Holland V Branch to find out more.