Allergy Tests Not Fool-Proof, Study Says
Doctors who make diagnoses purely on the results of allergy tests may be making a mistake, new research suggests. According to UPI, researchers from The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore found that allergy tests are not “magic bullets” and can actually be misleading.
“Allergy tests can help a clinician in making a diagnosis but tests by themselves are not diagnostic magic bullets or foolproof predictors of clinical disease,” said research team member Robert Wood. “Many children with positive test results do not have allergic symptoms and some children with negative test results have allergies.”
Instead, Wood says that blood and skin-prick testing used to determine allergies should only be used to confirm suspicion. Testing for allergies in a patient with no symptoms is likely to lead to a misdiagnosis, which in turn could cause people to avoid certain foods, environmental exposures or even pets without a necessity to do so.
This is because allergy tests are often only able to determine sensitivity to a substance—not a full-blown allergy, the Huffington Post reported.
Wood and other researchers involved with the study recommend other guidelines for testing and diagnosis that can supplement or even replace allergy tests. To determine a food allergy, for example, people out to try “food challenge” tests, which involves cutting out certain foods under doctor supervision.
For other concerns, primary care physicians ought to be comfortable consulting with outside allergist-immunologists.
“The bottom line is that, while allergy tests can be a valuable tool, pediatricians should use them cautiously and judiciously and interpret results in the context of symptoms and history,” Wood said.