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Allergies Health Center

When to Get an Allergy Test for Your Child

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Does your child get a runny nose during pollen season or hives after eating certain foods? It could be time for allergy testing.

Your doctor might first try allergy medication for your child. If it doesn't work, your doctor may send your child to an allergist if he has any of these symptoms:

  • Cold-like symptoms that last more than a week and happen at the same time each year
  • Asthma
  • Hives or skin rashes
  • Coughing or wheezing, especially at night

The allergist, who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies, will:

  • Ask about your child's symptoms and when he has them.
  • Do a physical exam, looking for signs of allergies.
  • Ask about your family history. If both parents have allergies, a child has a 75% chance of having allergies. If one parent has allergies, a child has a 50% chance of having them.

If the doctor believes that your child has allergies, testing may be able to confirm what kind she has. They may be skin tests or blood tests. Your child may react to a skin test in just a few minutes. Blood tests take a few days.

 If the allergist thinks your child has a food allergy, he may also suggest an elimination diet. Here, your child stops eating certain foods -- like milk, eggs, and peanuts -- to see if they were causing a reaction.

The allergist or your doctor uses the results of these tests to help develop a treatment plan for your child.

One word of caution: Allergy testing, whether done from a blood sample or a skin test, doesn’t give you the final verdict on whether something is an allergy trigger. Your doctor will consider the history of exposures and reactions plus the test results and may even ask you to do a challenge test in the office or at home to confirm an allergy. Allergy testing can give both false positive and false negative results. So the results must always be interpreted carefully and cautiously.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on October 23, 2014

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