1. Does histamine do anything besides cause allergic reaction symptoms?
Yes. In addition to allergic reactions, histamine plays a role in inflammatory processes, stimulates gastric acid secretion, acts as a neurotransmitter, dilates blood vessels, increases vascular permeability (allows fluids to move through blood vessel walls), affects smooth muscle contraction in the intestines and lungs, and affects heart rate and contraction. Medications have been developed to block some of the actions of histamine, including antihistamines and drugs that reduce stomach acid secretion.
2. If I think I have an allergy, should I have a histamine test done?
Your doctor may order specific allergy tests to help determine the substances you are allergic to, but a histamine test would usually be done only if severe allergic symptoms (such as those in anaphylaxis) are present. Most people with allergies will never need to have a histamine test performed.
Anaphylaxis can be rapidly fatal and requires immediate medical treatment with injections of epinephrine and other medications. This is followed by careful monitoring as it is not uncommon for anaphylaxis to recur within a couple of days of the initial episode. Those who are known to have severe allergic reactions are encouraged to carry a kit that contains an emergency injection of epinephrine with them at all times.
4. Can histamine testing be done in my doctor's office?
No. Though your sample may be collected at your doctor's office, it will be sent to a laboratory for testing. Histamine is a specialized test that is only performed in large or specialized laboratories.
This article was last reviewed on September 20, 2012. | This article was last modified on October 29, 2014.
The review date indicates when the article was last reviewed from beginning to end to ensure that it reflects the most current science. A review may not require any modifications to the article, so the two dates may not always agree.
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