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Here's What You Need To Know If You Are Taking A Beta Blocker & Need Allergy Testing

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If you have been experiencing allergic reactions to something and you'd like to know just what that 'something' is, you should see a dermatologist or an allergist to have some allergy testing done. As with most medical tests and evaluations, you will be asked a series of questions regarding your health and what medications you may be taking: prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Here's why and what you need to know about contraindications of beta-blockers and allergy skin tests before you have allergy testing done. 

Allergy Tests & Risk of Anaphylactic Shock

There are several types of allergy testing that are done, including prick skin tests, intradermal skin tests, and blood tests. The skin tests are done by placing a small amount of allergens into the prick on the skin or just underneath the skin to invoke an allergic response in those who are allergic to the allergens being tested, which typically results in hives or reddening of the area. 

Sometimes, people with severe allergies may go into anaphylaxis (also called anaphylactic shock) when exposed to an allergen, which results in a systemic allergic reaction involving a drop in blood pressure, narrowing of the airways, weakened heart rate, and nausea and vomiting. Should this happen, the allergy clinic has rescue treatments available. The only test that doesn't involve introducing allergens directly to the patient is the blood test.

Allergic Reactions & Beta Blockers

The blood tests are preferred when the patient is at high risk of going into anaphylactic shock as well as when patients are unable to be safely treated for systemic allergic reactions or anaphylaxis in the office due to the medications they have been taking, particularly beta-blockers. The reason for this is because-beta blockers block the effect of epinephrine, which is part of the rescue treatment plan for when someone goes into anaphylactic shock. Epinephrine is the key ingredient of the Epi-Pen. 

There are various reasons to be put on beta-blockers, including glaucoma, migraine prevention, high blood pressure, and heart conditions. Depending on the reason for the beta-blocker prescription, your allergy doctor may wish to confer with your primary care doctor or specialist to determine whether or not it would be appropriate to temporarily discontinue the beta-blocker so you can have the skin test done instead of the blood test. If the risk of temporarily discontinuing the beta-blocker is too high or you've been on beta-blockers for a long time, they will have you do the blood test instead of a skin test. Contact a group like Allergy Asthma Clinic of Fort Worth for more information.