Skip to content

Asthma Health Center

Select An Article

Allergy Tests and Asthma

Font Size

Allergy tests are a way to get to the bottom of what's causing your asthma symptoms. They help your doctor find your asthma triggers and prevent breathing problems.

But allergy tests alone are not enough to make an asthma diagnosis. Your doctor will look at your history of allergic reactions, too.

Recommended Related to Asthma

Cough-Variant Asthma

Cough-variant asthma is a type of asthma in which the main symptom is a dry, non-productive cough. (A non-productive cough does not expel any mucus from the respiratory tract.) People with cough-variant asthma often have no other "classic" asthma symptoms, such as wheezing or shortness of breath. Cough-variant asthma is sometimes called chronic cough to describe a cough that has lasted longer than six to eight weeks. The coughing with asthma can occur during the day or at night. If you have...

Read the Cough-Variant Asthma article > >

Several types of allergy testshelp with asthma, including skin tests and blood tests. The results of your allergy tests may show what's triggering your asthma and allergy symptoms, and that can help with your treatment.

Allergy Skin Tests

Your doctor may recommend skin tests if he or she thinks a specific allergen is causing your asthma symptoms. Allergy skin tests are quick, fairly reliable, and cost-effective. Your doctor will have test results usually within an hour of the skin test.

If you have poorly controlled asthma, trouble breathing, or a high risk of anaphylactic reactions, your doctor may wait to do skin tests.

Ask your doctor if you need to do anything before the test. For example, you should stop taking antihistamines before you get an allergy test. Your doctor may have other specific instructions, too.

In a skin test, you get a dose of a possible allergen. The test tracks your immune system's response -- specifically, if your body makes a molecule called immunoglobulin E (IgE). A high level of IgE can mean you have an allergy.

Skin Prick Test: The skin prick test is the most common allergy skin test. First, you get a series of tiny drops of allergens on your skin, usually on your back. Then you get a quick needle prick in the skin where each of the drops are. If you're allergic, you'll get a dime-sized hive that's red and itchy at the needle prick site. You may need a follow-up test to check the results.

Intradermal Test: If your skin prick test was negative, your doctor may try an intradermal test. In this test, your doctor injects the allergen into your skin. Intradermal allergy tests are often used for environmental allergies and drug allergies. Doctors usually don't use this type of allergy test with food or latex allergies.

Next Article:

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Lung and bronchial tube graphic
5 common triggers.
group jogging in park
Should you avoid fitness activities?
asthma inhaler
Learn about your options.
man feeling faint
What’s the difference?
Madison Wisconsin Capitol
woman wearing cpap mask
red wine pouring into glass
Woman holding inhaler
Man outdoors coughing
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
10 Worst Asthma Cities

WebMD Special Sections