Allergy Testing

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology "more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year".  In fact, the number of people affected by all types of allergies are on the rise.  At Essential Health Solutions, we are experts at detecting allergies (even the "hidden" ones) so you can take control of your symptoms and get back to your life.

At Essential Health Solutions, we offer many allergy test options to detect Immediate Allergies, Food Sensitivities, Hidden Allergies aka Delayed Allergies, Allergies caused by environmental factors such as pollen, pollution, toxins or molds, and Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities caused by Food Additives, Colorings, or Preservatives.  With a simple blood test, followed up by individualized nutrition counseling, quick and lasting relief from allergies can be accomplished.

Our skilled team members are experts at detecting allergies.  Don't Guess About Your Health, Get The Facts and Request an Appointment Online to be evaluated for Allergies or learn more about our Allergy Testing Services below.

 

 OUR ANSWERS TO COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT ALLERGY TESTING

WHAT IS AN ALLERGY? 

An allergy is an abnormal reaction by the immune system to everyday elements. The immune system holds the job of protecting the body from illness and infection. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system responds to an ordinary, everyday element as though it were a threat to the body's health and well-being. When an ordinary, everyday element produces such a reaction, it is termed an "allergen". Not all allergens have the same effect on all people's bodies.

 

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ALLERGIES

 There are four different types of allergic reactions, divided according to what's termed the "mechanism of tissue injury": or the type of effect the allergen is having on the body.

 

TYPE 1: IMMEDIATE ALLERGIES (IgE Antibody Mediated)

 

A Type 1 allergic reaction is the rarest and most dangerous. It is an immediate reaction that occurs 0-2 hours after exposure to the allergen. It is always acute, meaning severe. Another term for such an allergy is anaphylaxis, and if you've ever heard of "anaphylactic shock" such as from a peanut allergy, then you are familiar with a Type 1 allergy.

 Because immediate allergy testing differs from allergy testing for the other 3 types (all lumped together as "delayed allergies") see the tab above for more information on Immediate Allergy Testing.

 The other three types of allergic reactions, all delayed allergic reactions, are the following:

 

  • Type 2: Antibody-mediated

  • Type 3: Immune Complex

  • Type 4: Cell-mediated

    TYPE 2: ANTIBODY-MEDIATED ALLERGIES (IgA, IgM, and IgG Antibody Mediated)

    In this type of allergy, also known as a "Cytotoxic" reaction, when the body is exposed to an allergen, the allergen attaches to the body's cells, damaging them and causing the body to perceive those cells now as "antigens" or toxic, foreign substances the body must attack. The immune system then produces "antibodies" to combat these antigens, hence producing the symptoms of an allergic reaction. This mechanism applies in the case of hypersensitivity reactions to foods and inhaled allergens, or aeroallergens (e.g. ragweed), as well.

    TYPE 3: IMMUNE-COMPLEX ALLERGIES

    In this type of allergic reaction, the foreign element in the blood (the allergen) binds with with antibodies (rather than binding with the body's own cells as in a Type 2 reaction). Then it proceed to bind with the smaller blood vessel walls in a certain part of the body, such as the skin, where a symptomatic reaction like local inflammation and blood vessel hemorrhaging will then occur. Allergies to medication are commonly Type 3 reactions.

    TYPE 4: CELL-MEDIATED ALLERGIES

    These are the most delayed of the delayed allergies, often occurring many hours after exposure to an allergen. Similarly to Type 2 allergies, in Type 4 allergies the allergen binds with the body's own cells which in turn triggers an immune system response. However the initial exposure to the allergen only activates the immune response. It isn't until the antibodies that the immune system releases come in contact with the allergen that the experience of the allergic reaction in the form of overt symptoms occurs.

    For more on this subject, refer to our Delayed Allergy tab above.

    ALLERGY SYMPTOMS

    Exposure to an allergen that can cause adverse symptoms, or "allergic reactions" can occur a number of different ways, including:

 

  • inhalation

  • ingestion

  • physical contact (with the skin)

    The range of allergy symptoms is extensive -- spanning from the relatively benign (e.g. runny/stuffy nose) to the potentially debilitating (e.g. cramps) to the downright dangerous (e.g. anaphylactic shock) -- and can be explored in-depth on our convenient Allergy Symptoms Reference Page where you can explore the four types of allergies in greater detail, including the symptoms, causes, and conditions associated with each.

    ALLERGY TESTING AT ESSENTIAL HEALTH SOLUTIONS

    Not all delayed allergy testing tests for Type II, III, and IV allergies. However, at Essential Health Solutions, we provide all the blood allergy testing that you need, including Types I-IV: that is, both for immediate and delayed allergies ( including all three pathways).

    There are many ways to test for allergies. An immediate allergy, for example can be testing by exposing the skin to a potential allergen, or through a blood test. All the allergy testing we conduct at our functional medicine center in Chicago is blood testing.  The test we use has been measured to be five times more accurate than other allergy tests available today, with less than 1% false negative readings and less than 0.1% false positive readings.

    ALLERGY TESTING FOR CHICAGO RESIDENTS

    Call us to find out more or to schedule an Allergy Test today, at 773.878.7330.
    We are located in Chicago but are happy to accommodate patients from outside our area or refer you to someone near you - Call our Office for more information.

 

IMMEDIATE ALLERGIES 

Patients at Essential Health Solutions often communicate to us that they are already familiar with immediate allergies (or Type I allergies), although they may not be familiar with the term.

WHAT IS AN IMMEDIATE ALLERGY?

If you know that you are allergic to something because you experience a symptom every time you're exposed to the allergen, as soon as you're exposed to it (less than 2 hours after exposure), then that is an immediate allergy.

For a more detailed explanation of how allergies occur in general -- and of the terms "antigen" and "antibody" -- read our article: Allergy Testing.


In terms of immediate allergies, they are any allergy which causes the immune system to produce a type of antibody called IgE. When these IgE antibodies bind to the perceived antigens, they create what's called an "immune complex". When certain specialized cells of the body (called "mast cells" and "basophils") come in contact with these immune complexes, they release a substance known as "histamine" which is responsible for producing all the symptoms the allergy sufferer experiences.

IMMEDIATE ALLERGY TESTING IN CHICAGO AT ESSENTIAL HEALTH SOLUTIONS

To ask questions about blood allergy testing in Chicago for Immediate Allergies, please call Essential Health Solutions at 773.878.7330 or visit us in our Andersonville office. We proudly serve Chicago area residents with food allergies testing and individualized nutrition counseling. 

ALLERGY TESTING:
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

When other allergy testing fails to identify the source of an allergic reaction, it's time to move to the next level of food allergy testing: delayed allergy testing. Delayed Allergy Testing is also referred to as Food Intolerance Test or Food Sensitivity Testing when food items are being tested.   These terms are sometimes used interchangeably to mean the same thing however there is a difference as we will discover below.  But before delving into the details on food allergy testing, let's first take a moment to define what they are.

WHAT ARE DELAYED ALLERGIES | HIDDEN ALLERGIES?

Unlike immediate allergies, delayed allergies do not make their presence known upon exposure. Instead, the symptoms from delayed allergies will not usually arise until at least 2 hours past the initial exposure to the allergen; sometimes delayed allergy symptoms won't appear for a day or more after exposure, and it is not uncommon for them to appear up to 3 days after exposure.

The result is that it can make it very difficult for you to identify the antigen responsible for triggering the allergic reaction. Hence, delayed allergies have been commonly dubbed "hidden allergies".

DELAYED ALLERGY SYMPTOMS

Delayed allergy symptoms can affect nearly all systems of the body, including:

  • central nervous system
  • respiratory system
  • musculoskeletal system
  • gastrointestinal system
  • dermal systems (or the skin)

Learn more about delayed allergies and associated symptoms: Allergy Symptoms Reference

The types of symptoms a delayed allergy can cause are vast, which can often make them more difficult to identify. For example, among the delayed allergy symptoms less commonly associated with an allergy are:

  • depression
  • fatigue
  • inflammation
  • lack of mental clarity

What's more, not only do delayed allergy symptoms typically present themselves long after the original exposure to the allergen, but those symptoms can last for a long time after they present themselves -- often for many weeks.

That is to say: delayed allergy symptoms may not go away so quickly or easily on their own. Often intervention is required in order to experience prompt relief and avoid undue pain and suffering.

Some examples of delayed allergens include:

  • poison ivy
  • foods
  • food additives and preservatives (including food colorings and dyes)
  • herbs
  • medications
  • environmental (pollens)
  • chemicals
  • cosmetics
  • metals
  • soaps
  • solvents

One of the most common delayed allergies, however, are to foods -- and may be familiar to some people as "food sensitivities".

FOOD SENSITIVITY TESTING 

For many people, nutrition is not often associated with food allergies, but the reality is that food allergy testing is one of the most common and effective nutrition counseling services that Essential Health Solutions provides.

Food allergies are typically thought of as immediate allergies, in which the symptomatic responses are instantaneous upon ingestion of the food allergen. But there are also food sensitivities, or delayed allergies, to certain foods or components of certain foods, that present all the same issues discussed above.

Moreover, these food-based delayed allergies -- or food sensitivities -- are often "cyclic". In relation to food sensitivities this can mean either of two things:

  • a person may lose certain food sensitivities after not eating that food for a long enough period of time
  • a person may acquire a food sensitivity after eating too much of a certain food

In both cases, identifying the food allergen as soon as possible through food sensitivity testing (often just called food allergy testing) is the best way to re-mediate it and prevent it from recurring.

DELAYED ALLERGY TESTING AT ESSENTIAL HEALTH SOLUTIONS IN CHICAGO

Delayed allergies need not stay hidden for long, as the modern methods for allergy testing available to us today at Essential Health Solutions in Chicago are state of the art.

In the past, if the allergic reaction wasn't an immediate allergy then the most an allergy test could determine was whether an allergen was indeed responsible for a reaction. But it could not identify what that allergen was. Now we can.

There are 3 types, or pathways, of delayed allergies:

  • Type II - Reactive Antibody
  • Type III - Immune Complex
  • Type IV - T-Cell Mediated

(Type I allergies are immediate allergies.)

Within each of these pathways, the range of possible causes, symptoms, related conditions, and mode of response on the body differs. In the past, this made identifying a delayed allergen very difficult.

Fortunately, the delayed allergy testing Chicago residents have available to them today through our office at Essential Health Solutions is the most advanced allergy test of its kind, and the only one that tests all 3 pathways from a single blood draw.

Here at Essential Health Solutions we are proud to offer our patients a comprehensive array of panels, containing almost 500 substances in all, including:

  • foods 
  • food additives, preservatives, and colorings
  • molds
  • medications
  • environmental pollens, toxins, and pollutants

Found to be 5 times more accurate than all other delayed allergy testing methods available today, the test we use promises fewer than 1% false negative readings and fewer than .1% false positive readings.

WHAT TO EXPECT: THE EXAM AND THE PLAN

If you have symptoms , we recommend scheduling a problem focused exam.  A problem focused exam will provide us the opportunity to review your history, your symptoms, your goals, and complete a physical examination.  This is an important step so that other conditions which may be causing or contributing to the cause of your symptoms can be ruled out/in.

During your exam, we would discuss possible elimination diet, food allergy testing, or other testing that may be needed in order to find out what is causing your symptoms and how to resolve them.

Food allergy testing requires a blood draw that will be scheduled on your subsequent "Testing Visit".  The amount of blood drawn depends on the number of items being tested.

After your test results are analyzed, a report is prepared, providing you a list of all the items tested and each result.  Recommendations for avoidance, including common routes of exposure, and recommendations for recovery and follow-up are made to make sure your plan is working for you.

Oftentimes, some of the foods may be reintroduced at a later date after the allergic food has been eliminated and the body has had a chance to heal and reset --- only testing will let us know.

SCHEDULE ALLERGY CONSULTATION TODAY!

Find out more about the allergy testing Essential Health Solutions has available, please call us at 773.878.7330 or request an appointment online.

 

Allergy Symptoms Reference

 

There are 4 types of Allergies:

For your convenience, the allergy testing and nutrition counseling service at Essential Health Solutions in Chicago has put together this handy reference detailing each of these 4 types of allergies, including not only the common symptoms associated with each, but also common causes and conditions typically involving each allergy type.

TYPE I - Triggers the production of histamine which can produce a wide array of symptoms ranging from mild to severe, as well as an assortment of secondary symptoms.

Symptoms commonly include:

  • MILD --
    • sneezing
    • coughing
    • runny nose
    • congestion
    • itchy and watery eyes
    • sore throat
  • MODERATE --
    • hives
    • cramps
    • nausea and vomiting
    • shortness of breath
  • SEVERE --
    • anaphylactic shock
    • swelling of the tongue, lips, and throat
    • suffocation
    • death
  • OTHER ASSOCIATED SYMPTOMS --
    • fatigue
    • muscle and joint pain
    • headaches
    • depression and other mood disorders
    • dizziness
    • gastrointestinal upset.

Causes commonly include:

  • inhalation of an allergen
  • ingestion of an allergen
  • physical contact with an allergen

Conditions that may involve Type I allergic reactions include:

  • rhinitis (hay fever)
  • allergic conjunctivitis
  • asthma
  • eczema

TYPE II - Reactive Antibody - Triggers an immune response similar to that of a bacteria, virus or other pathogen.

Symptoms commonly include:

  • cell and tissue damage

Causes commonly include:

  • hypersensitivity to drugs, like Penicillin

Conditions that may involve Type II delayed allergies include:

  • Coombs'-positive hemolytic anemias
  • hyperacute graft rejection of an organ transplant
  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis
  • Goodpasture's syndrome (or anti-glomerular basement membrane disease)

TYPE III - Immune Complex: Similar to a Type II reaction, except it may be triggered by either an external antigen (i.e. a foreign substance) or if the body starts to attack its own cells.

Symptoms commonly include:

  • inflammation
  • hives
  • rash
  • painful joints

Causes commonly include:

  • hypersensitivity to antibiotics

Conditions that may involve Type III delayed allergies include:

  • cryoglobulinemia
  • serum sickness
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • leukocytoclastic vasculitis
  • bronchopulmonary aspergillosis
  • hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • many types of glomerulonephritis

TYPE IV - T-Cell Mediated: A hypersensitivity that only occurs when the antigen comes in direct contact with the skin. Hence it's often known as a "Contact Allergy".

Symptoms commonly include:

  • inflammation
  • hives
  • rash

Causes commonly include:

  • poison ivy
  • latex
  • chemicals
  • physical contact with food (not ingestion)

Conditions that may involve Type IV delayed allergies include:

  • tuberculosis
  • hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • allograft rejection

Feeling Well and Being Healthy is within Reach! 

Call Essential Health Solutions at 773.878.7330 to set up allergy testing in our Chicago office today. This can be followed up by individualized nutrition counseling with one of our Chicago nutritionists.

Serving the 60640 area, our office is located in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, right off Lincoln Square. There's free parking on the street by our building and in a small lot at the north end.