Just The Sniffles? Knowing When To Schedule Allergy Testing

Posted on: 14 July 2021

Have you ever heard someone talk about "allergy season?" While pollen counts tend to be highest in the spring, allergy sufferers know that it can be a year-round battle. Outdoor allergy seasons can be especially brutal for people with a high level of sensitivity to certain plants, but that doesn't mean that allergy symptoms can't appear at any point during the year.

Unfortunately, persistent allergy symptoms can negatively impact your life in a variety of ways. Overcoming these symptoms typically means developing a treatment or avoidance plan with an allergist, but a practical program requires you to understand your triggers clearly. Coming to this understanding usually requires allergy testing.

How Do Allergy Tests Work?

Most allergy tests work by exposing your skin to various potential allergens, either by injecting the allergen into the skin, scratching it just below the surface, or leaving a small amount in direct contact. In all cases, the allergist will check for signs of an allergic reaction. Although they place allergens on or under your skin, these tests can still effectively provide information on airborne or food-based allergies.

Depending on which allergies you suspect, you may be able to get tested in a single day. Some tests may take more than one day to show a reaction, however. In these cases, you'll usually schedule an appointment for the examination and then a follow-up to interpret the results. These results are not just binary yes or no results — the doctor will also consider the severity of any reaction present.

When Should You Schedule a Test?

As a general rule, you'll need allergy testing when your symptoms are particularly distressing or disruptive. If severe symptoms are making it hard to work, sleep, or relax, then testing will help you uncover the cause to start working on more targeted therapies. Don't assume that you necessarily know your allergy triggers, even if you've been living with the symptoms for some time.

Blanket allergen testing may not be effective because there are so many potential triggers, however. To develop an effective plan, you should usually begin by scheduling an appointment with an allergist to discuss your current symptoms. They will work with you to narrow down the range of possible triggers and then perform tests to determine the exact cause of your most severe symptoms.

Once you know what's causing your allergies, you can begin to work with an allergist to treat them. In some cases, this may include medication, but you may also be able to mitigate your symptoms with more straightforward environmental changes. Whatever the case, working with an allergist to test and treat your allergies can potentially lead to a significant improvement in your quality of life.