Radioallergosorbent test (RAST) is a method of measuring the amount of antibody IgE that is produced by the immune system as a result of exposure of your blood to a particular allergen. It is true that allergic reactions or disorders are among the most common problems encountered in emergency medical care. Such disorders include rhinitis, asthma and conjunctivitis as well as other allergic reactions towards food, drugs and insect venom. In as much as allergic reactions are common, it is not advisable for you to start using antihistamine drugs at any allergy-like symptoms that you encounter. It is a fact that majority of symptoms that resemble allergies are may not be true allergic reactions. It is, therefore, paramount for you to perform RAST testing before taking any antihistamines for the following reasons:
For correct diagnosis
Given that many symptoms that resemble allergies are not a result of allergic reactions, it is important to confirm by testing if your condition is as a result of an allergy or other medical conditions. If you are to take antihistamines without this confirmation, you will not have provided the correct solution to your problem and the situation is likely to become even worse. You should be able to consult a physician who will conduct an RAST allergy test or a skin prick allergy test. A RAST test is better because it is not sensitive, require no special preparations, is safe when you have other medical conditions like skin disorders, it does not require you to stop the use of antihistamine resembling drugs, creams or moisturizers for some time before the test is done and it can be used for small children who cannot tolerate skin pricking.
To identify specific allergens
When dealing with allergies, it is important to know specific allergens that your immune system is sensitive towards. This will enable you to avoid such allergens. For instance, if you are allergic to pollen, you will be able to avoid pollen or increase medication during the flowering season. RAST test uses allergens which specific IgE binds to hence allowing the identification of the substance responsible for the hypersensitivity.
To know the level of sensitivity
The good thing about RAST allergy test is its ability to quantify the levels of sensitivity. Knowing these levels usually helps in the treatment of the condition especially when the symptoms are severe, does not respond to drugs or can cause further allergic reactions and allergen immunotherapy is required as a way of treatment. Allergen immunotherapy is the administration of slow and repeated concentration of allergen to reduce the levels of sensitivity to that particular allergen. For allergen immunotherapy to start, the level of sensitivity needs to be known so that a safe concentration of starting allergen dose is administered. If the sensitivity is high, low concentration of starting dose needs to be administered because lots of caution needs to be taken not to cause more sensitivity and if the sensitivity is high, a high concentration of dose is administered which reduces the length and time of the therapy.
Antihistamines interfere with other allergy tests
Sometimes, a faster allergy test may be required, or a RAST test might not be available. This will require you to undergo other allergy tests such as the skin prick allergy test which does not require a prior use of antihistamines because it interferes with the result of the test.
Taking antihistamines is only good when you have a confirmed allergic condition, and the physician has prescribed them to be used for the treatment of that specific allergic condition.
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