Reviewed by Harold S. Nelson, MD

The diagnosis of allergies, or allergic disease, is based on the patient’s clinical history, family history, physical examination, skin tests and laboratory tests. The tests serve to confirm the diagnosis of allergic disease and to identify potential allergic triggers, knowledge that is useful to guide allergen avoidance strategies.

Your doctor uses the following information to make a diagnosis of allergy:

  • History: The diagnosis of allergy begins with a clinical history. Your doctor will ask questions about your general health and then will focus on allergies and conditions that commonly coexist with allergic disorders.  Your doctor will need to know all the symptoms that are troubling you.

  • Family History: Your doctor will ask you whether any of your close relatives have allergic symptoms and whether they have been diagnosed with an allergic disorder such as asthma, hay fever, eczema, or allergic sensitivity to foods or medications.

  • Physical Exam: Your doctor will perform a complete physical exam with special emphasis on eyes, ears, nose, throat, chest and skin

  • Allergy Tests: Allergy tests will likely be performed to determine whether you are allergic and what you are allergic to. Skin tests are carried out by applying drops of allergens to your skin and then scratching though them and/or or by testing the blood sensitizing antibodies.


Reasons to See an Allergy Expert

Many people with allergies see a family doctor for allergy care. You may choose to visit a board-certified allergist, which is a doctor who specializes in allergies, for your allergy testing and treatment. Here are a few reasons for seeing an allergy specialist:

  • Your symptoms interfere in your daily activities.
  • Your symptoms are getting worse.
  • You are concerned about side effects of medicine.
  • Your regular doctor refers you to an expert for specialized tests

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