How to diagnose Allergy? Diagnosing allergies can be a complex process, but it is essential for effective treatment and management. If over-the-counter medications are not providing relief, or if you suspect a food allergy, consulting an allergist is the best course of action.

Allergists are specialized doctors who will take a detailed medical history, perform a physical exam, and conduct various tests to identify the specific allergens causing your symptoms.

This article will guide you through the different steps in diagnosing allergies, from understanding the symptoms to developing a personalized treatment plan.

Key Takeaways

  • Consult an allergist if over-the-counter medications are ineffective or if you suspect a food allergy.
  • Allergists will take a detailed medical history and physical exam to identify potential allergens.
  • Skin tests are the most common and accurate method for diagnosing allergies, providing quick results.
  • Blood tests can also be used to diagnose allergies, especially when skin tests are unsuitable.
  • Developing a personalized treatment plan is crucial for effective allergy management and symptom relief.

Understanding Allergy Symptoms

Allergies can manifest in various ways, making it essential to recognize the symptoms early. For allergy sufferers, the allergy season may mean several annoying symptoms including runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, congestion, and sneezing. Unlike other conditions, these symptoms are often persistent and can significantly impact daily life.

Common Symptoms of Allergies

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Skin rashes or hives
  • Shortness of breath

When to See a Doctor

If you experience severe or persistent symptoms, it is crucial to consult a healthcare provider. They can perform allergy testing to identify the source of your suffering and accurately diagnose your condition. This step is vital for developing a personalized plan that eliminates your symptoms and provides you with the most cost-effective care.

How to diagnose Allergy?

Differentiating Allergies from Other Conditions

It can be challenging to know if it’s allergies or an illness. For instance, a common cold may share symptoms like a runny nose and congestion, but allergies often include itching and watery eyes. If your symptoms persist beyond a typical cold duration or worsen during specific seasons, it might be time to consider allergies as the culprit.

Seeking the help of an allergist to test for and diagnose your allergies can help you to feel much better.

Consulting an Allergist

Consulting an allergist is a crucial step in managing and diagnosing allergies effectively. Seeking the help of an allergist to test for and diagnose your allergies can help you feel much better. These specialists are trained in the best methods for diagnosing and treating allergies.

Preparing for Your Appointment

Before your appointment, make a list of your symptoms and any potential triggers you have noticed. This will help your allergist to identify the source of your suffering more accurately. Bring any previous medical records related to your allergy symptoms.

Questions Your Allergist May Ask

Your allergist will ask a series of questions to understand your condition better. These may include:

  • What symptoms are you experiencing?
  • When do these symptoms occur?
  • Do you have a family history of allergies?
  • Have you tried any treatments so far?

What to Expect During the Visit

During your visit, your allergist may perform various tests, such as skin testing or blood testing, to pinpoint the source of your allergies. These tests are best done under the guidance of an allergist. The results will help in developing a personalized plan that eliminates your symptoms.

When you want to pinpoint the source of your allergies or asthma, it’s time for an allergist.

Skin Tests for Allergy Diagnosis

Skin tests for allergic disorders have been used successfully for more than 100 years. Today, prick or scratch tests are the most commonly used type of skin test. These tests are not very invasive and, for most allergens, they tend to produce quick results. If the results of prick or scratch tests are negative, they may be followed by intradermal tests, which give allergists more details about what’s causing the symptoms.

Blood Tests for Allergy Diagnosis

Types of Blood Tests

Blood tests, such as Specific IgE tests, are often used when skin tests are not suitable. These tests measure the amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in your blood, which are produced in response to allergens. This method is particularly useful for individuals with skin conditions or those taking medications that interfere with skin testing.

Procedure and What to Expect

If you have a skin condition or are taking medicine that interferes with skin testing, allergen blood tests may be used. They may also be used for children who may not tolerate skin testing. Your doctor will take a blood sample and send it to a laboratory. The lab adds the allergen to your blood sample and then measures the amount of antibodies your blood produces to attack the allergens. Results are typically available within a few days, but this method is generally more expensive than skin tests.

Interpreting Blood Test Results

Blood test results alone do not diagnose allergies. All test results, from either type of test, must be interpreted together with your medical history. The results will show the level of IgE antibodies present in your blood, which can help identify specific allergens. However, further tests or procedures may be needed for a comprehensive diagnosis.

Blood tests known as in vitro immunoglobulin E antibody tests can be useful for those who shouldn’t or can’t undergo skin tests. Blood tests aren’t used for penicillin allergy.

Identifying Specific Allergens

Food Allergies

Food allergies are common and can cause a range of symptoms from mild to severe. Correctly identifying a person’s specific allergic triggers helps an allergist develop the best therapies and management plans for each patient. Common food allergens include peanuts, eggs, wheat, shellfish, and milk.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies are triggered by substances in the environment such as pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and mold. Both blood and skin allergy tests can detect a patient’s sensitivity to these common inhalants. Skin testing is the preferred method used by trained allergists and is usually the most accurate.

How to diagnose Allergy?

Medication and Other Allergies

Allergy tests can also identify sensitivities to medicines, latex, venom, or other substances. Testing is available for some medicines, such as penicillin. These tests introduce various allergens under controlled conditions and observe your body’s reactions to identify specific allergies.

Developing a Personalized Treatment Plan

Medications and Therapies

A personalized treatment plan for allergies often includes a combination of medications and therapies tailored to the individual’s specific needs. An action plan should be developed through a discussion between the patient and the physician, reflecting the patient’s severity, preferences, and values. Common medications include antihistamines, corticosteroids, and decongestants. In some cases, immunotherapy may be recommended to gradually reduce sensitivity to allergens.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to medications, lifestyle changes play a crucial role in managing allergies. Patients are often advised to avoid known allergens, maintain a clean environment, and use air purifiers. Dietary adjustments may also be necessary for those with food allergies. Regular exercise and stress management techniques can further help in reducing allergy symptoms.

Follow-Up and Monitoring

Regular follow-up appointments with an allergist are essential to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment plan and make necessary adjustments. Patients should keep a symptom diary to track their progress and report any new or worsening symptoms to their healthcare provider. This ongoing monitoring ensures that the treatment plan remains effective and responsive to the patient’s needs.


Diagnosing allergies can be a complex process, but it is essential for effective treatment and management. If over-the-counter medications do not alleviate your symptoms or if you suspect a food allergy, consulting an allergist is crucial. These specialists will take a detailed medical history, perform a physical exam, and conduct various tests such as skin or blood tests to pinpoint the exact cause of your symptoms. Skin tests are often preferred for their accuracy and speed, while blood tests may be used in specific situations. By identifying the source of your allergies, an allergist can develop a personalized treatment plan that not only addresses your symptoms but also aims to eliminate them. Seeking professional help ensures you receive the most effective and cost-efficient care, ultimately improving your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common symptoms of allergies?

Common symptoms of allergies include sneezing, itching, runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes, and skin rashes. In some cases, you may also experience hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing.

When should I see a doctor for my allergies?

You should see a doctor if your allergy symptoms are not easily relieved with over-the-counter medications, if you suspect you have a food allergy, or if your symptoms are severe and affecting your daily life.

What types of tests do allergists use to diagnose allergies?

Allergists commonly use skin tests and blood tests to diagnose allergies. Skin tests provide quick and accurate results, while blood tests measure the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your bloodstream.

How do skin tests for allergies work?

During a skin test, small amounts of common allergens are pricked into your skin. If you are allergic to a substance, you will develop a raised bump (hive) at the test location.

What should I expect during my visit to an allergist?

During your visit, the allergist will take a detailed medical history, ask about your symptoms, and perform a physical exam. They may also conduct allergy tests to identify the specific allergens causing your symptoms.

How are blood tests for allergies conducted?

Blood tests, such as the specific IgE (sIgE) test, measure the level of allergy-causing antibodies in your blood. A blood sample is taken and analyzed to determine your sensitivity to various allergens.