Your child's doctor may first tell you to try allergy medicine, but he may suggest seeing an allergist if it doesn't work and your kid has any of these problems:
- Cold-like symptoms that last more than a week and happen at the same time each year
- Hives or skin rashes
- Coughing or wheezing, especially at night
An allergist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies. When he sees your child, he'll:
- Ask about your kid's symptoms and when he has them
- Do a physical exam, looking for signs of allergies
The allergist may suggest skin or blood tests that can check what kind of allergy your little one has. This should tell you immediately what your child is allergic to depending on what the skin is testing, but blood tests take a few days.
If the allergist thinks your child has a food allergy, he may also suggest a type of test called an "elimination diet." Your kid stops eating certain foods -- like milk, eggs, and peanuts -- to see if they were the cause of his allergy symptoms. This involves testing one food type at a time and may take some patience and adjusting to.
Once the doctor's got all the test results, he'll develop a treatment plan for your child.
One word of caution, though. Allergy testing doesn't give you the final verdict on whether something is an allergy trigger. Your doctor may also consider the history of your child's contact with pollen or food and any reactions he's had.
Allergy testing can give faulty results, so the results must always be interpreted carefully and cautiously. Based on allergy testing, your doctor may recommend certain medications, prevention tips and even allergy shots.