Diagnosis & Tests

Do you sneeze every time you pet a cat? Do you break out in hives when a bee or wasp stings you? Then you may already know what some of your allergens are. Very often you don’t know what is causing your allergy symptoms. Diagnosing allergy can be difficult since the symptoms may be similar to other conditions. You may be referred by your GP to an allergy specialist.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Allergies?

Doctors diagnose allergies in three steps:

  1. Personal and medical history
    Your doctor will ask you lots of questions to find out the possible causes of your clinical symptoms. Make notes at home about your family history, the kinds of medicines you take, and your lifestyle at home, school or work. Write down when, where and how symptoms occurred. Do you only get symptoms at certain times of the year? Do you suffer more at night time or during the day? Does exposure to animals bring on your symptoms? Do they occur at any particular time of the day? Does any food or drink bring on your symptoms.
    This will help the doctor to get a complete understanding of your symptoms.
  1. Physical exam
    If there is evidence of allergy your doctor will have a look at your eyes, nose, ears, throat, chest and skin during the exam. In some cases the doctor has to check your lungs with a pulmonary function test. Sometimes you also may need an X-ray of your lungs or sinuses.
  1. Tests to determine your allergens
    Tests are just one of many tools available to assist your doctor in making a diagnosis. No one test alone is able to diagnose an allergy.