Indoor Allergy Triggers
Discover what’s behind your symptoms.
Diagnosing Indoor Allergies
Dander, droppings, dust -- if every home has them, how can you narrow down
what is triggering your indoor allergies? There are essentially two ways: By
trial and error, and through allergy testing.
For the trial-and-error approach, searching for patterns is key, Chiu tells
WebMD. Perhaps you visit your sister and her cats every Monday. Before long you
notice every Monday that you’re blocked up, blowing your nose, and rubbing your
eyes. It doesn’t take long for this flash of insight: You’re allergic to
Of course, discovering what’s triggering your indoor allergies isn’t always
that easy. Which is why “the best way to find out what you’re allergic to is to
see an allergist,” says Alan Goldsobel, adjunct associate clinical professor at
Stanford University Medical Center, and spokesman for the American Academy of
Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
An allergist can cut through the guessing games with examinations and tests,
zeroing in on what’s behind your indoor allergy symptoms, Goldsobel tells
WebMD. Allergists generally diagnose allergies in three ways:
Personal and medical history: Through questions about your personal
and medical history, an allergist will note your symptoms and narrow down their
Examination: To further determine symptoms and causes, an allergist
will also perform a physical examination, paying special attention to your
eyes, nose, throat, chest, ears, and skin. Test may also include X-rays of your
lungs or sinuses.
Skin, patch, or blood tests:For many people, skin tests are the most
accurate and least expensive way to confirm suspected allergens, according to
the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Results can take as little as 20
minutes, and generally show up as redness, swelling, and itching at the site of
the scratch or needle prick.
With patch tests, the doctor places a potential allergen on your skin,
covers it with a bandage, and checks your reaction 48 hours later. If you
develop a rash, you’re allergic to that particular allergen.
Blood (RAST) tests are used when skin testing isn’t possible, such as when
people are taking certain medication or have a skin condition. Your allergist
will take a blood sample and send to the lab. The lab adds the suspected
allergen to the blood sample, and measures how many antibodies your blood makes
to attack the allergen.