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Allergy Test Worth Taking

Study finds it can save health-care dollars, patient confusion

TUESDAY, March 22, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Sheryl Szeinbach spent four years believing she had multiple allergies.

She spent countless dollars and hours seeing doctors, getting shots and taking drugs. Nothing helped.

Finally, she took a blood test for allergies called ImmunoCap. It came out negative. Twice.

Szeinbach's congestive symptoms, it turned out, were not due to any allergies. Instead, the chlorine in the pool where she swam simply irritated her skin.

"I didn't know the test was out there," she recalled. "There are a lot of people in my situation."

Now Szeinbach, a professor of pharmacy practice and administration at Ohio State University's College of Pharmacy in Columbus, has authored a study concluding that managed-care practice guidelines should encourage use of the test so more primary-care physicians can take advantage of it.

Her results were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in San Antonio. The full study has been accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

ImmunoCap is made by Pharmacia, which funded the study.

"It's a good, accurate blood test. Family physicians should be using it," Szeinbach said. "We need changes in managed-care guidelines and protocol."

The test measures levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that triggers allergic reactions.

If it finds that someone does have severe allergies, they would be referred to a specialist for treatment.

And in those who test negative for allergy, "this test would save money," Szeinbach said, because "a specialist costs about $100 versus a generalist, who typically costs $50."

More information

For more on allergy testing, visit the AAAAI.

SOURCE: Sheryl Szeinbach, Ph.D., professor, pharmacy practice and administration, College of Pharmacy, Ohio State University, Columbus; scientific presentation, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, San Antonio
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