Discussing allergies with your doctor

Doctors may perform a few tests before diagnosing you with allergies. In order to rule out other medical conditions that may be causing your symptoms, your doctor will ask detailed questions about:

  • your symptoms, how often you experience the symptoms, and the severity of your symptoms
  • your personal and family medical history
  • how you usually treat your allergy symptoms
  • what triggers your allergy symptoms

Your doctor may also perform a physical exam, where he will look at your nose and nasal passage. Your doctor may also suggest the following allergy tests:

  • skin prick test: This type of test confirms which allergen causes the allergic reaction. In this test, a small amount of purified allergens are pricked into the skin of your arm or upper back. If you are allergic, a hive (a raised, itchy red bump) will appear at the test location on your skin, letting you and your doctor know which particular allergen you're allergic to. If you are scheduled for a skin prick test, you should stop using antihistamine medications 3 days prior to the appointment.
  • allergy blood test: In this test, your doctor takes a sample of your blood and sends it to a laboratory, where the amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies is measured. These substances are produced by your body in reaction to exposure to an allergen. This test, also called a radioallergosorbent (RAST) test, can measure your immune system's response to a specific allergen.