Allergies cause frustration for adults and children alike—and having to go to the doctor for blood work or a skin test can cause even more anxiety, but a new product called MyAllergyTest spares allergy sufferers from such hospital trips by allowing them to test for 10 common allergens at home.
The kit was created by a company called ImmuneTech, and the CEO, Lisa Elkins, was once a severe allergy sufferer herself.
"It’s important for people to understand what they are allergic to and to consider the need to manage [allergies] a priority," Elkins tells Healthline.
More than 60 million Americans are allergy sufferers, but many don't know what their triggers are. Elkins says the new at-home test kit is meant to help people identify precisely what is causing their runny nose, itchy eyes, and scratchy throat in the first place.
"You can't manage what you don't measure, so taking an active role in knowing what you are allergic to is critical, whether it is by our test or through the help of your physician," Elkins said.
MyAllergyTest has already been approved by the FDA, is now available at Walgreens and Walmart for around $50, and helps to identify 10 key allergens, including milk, wheat, mold, grass, and cat dander, with just a small sample of blood.
How the Test Works
The patient pricks a finger and draws a few drops of blood. Then, she mails the sample to ImmuneTech's partner lab for analysis, and the results are available online within a few days. The lab also creates a personalized allergy management plan to help with long-term prevention and treatment.
Prevention and management of allergies are vital, says Elkins. "I suffered terribly as a child and young adult and ultimately ended up with severe asthma. It’s not a disease to take lightly."
Managing Children's Allergies
Kids are the least likely to be excited about a trip to the doctor involving multiple needle pricks, so Elkins thinks the product will be especially helpful for identifying and managing allergies in children.
"It is the most minimally invasive approach of all test methods. A simple finger prick is a lot less traumatic than drawing blood through a needle or having 30 to 40 needles scratched on the arms and back, many of which may swell or itch," Elkins said. "When it is traumatic for the child, it is usually also difficult on the parent."
There are other ways in which she thinks this home test will be beneficial for children—and their doctors, too.
"Drawing the blood and testing it outside the body as opposed to scratching the allergen into the skin eliminates the risk of a severe reaction. Many physicians will not scratch test children given that risk, so this offers a suitable option for children," she said.
Kit Won't Replace Your Doctor
"Our intent is not to advocate that this replace the advice of a physician, particularly if a person's symptoms are severe," said Elkins.
The goal of the home test kit is simply to make testing more accessible and affordable for everyone.
"An allergy is often perceived as a nuisance that you must just suffer through, but in reality, it’s a major driver of serious chronic illnesses, such as asthma," Elkins said. "In spite of this, the number of allergists has been on the decline, so in some parts of the country it can sometimes be difficult to see one."
Having all the information at your fingertips will help you make better decisions about your health and that of your family.
"Sometimes a negative result is as important as a positive one," Elkins said, "because it may mean a person's symptoms are caused by something else."