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Asthma: Allergy Testing

If you often have allergy symptoms—such as itchy, watery eyes; a runny nose; wheezing; sneezing; or itchy skin— allergy testing can help determine if your symptoms are from allergies. Some people's allergy symptoms don't include their nose or eyes, but mainly their asthma acts up. Sometimes you can tell the allergic substance because of the time that your symptoms happen in the spring or fall, for instance. But you may need specific allergy testing to figure out other allergies. 

The healthcare provider will test how you react to allergens. For example, dust mites, pets, mold, tree, weed, and grass pollen, cockroach droppings, and many other substances.

One type of allergy testing is the prick technique. During this test, the provider will make a small prick in your skin with a needle that has allergen extract on it. A very small amount of the allergens is then in the skin. If you are allergic, the spot will get red, swollen, and itchy. A more sensitive type of test uses a small needle to inject allergens under the skin.

If you think you may have allergies that are triggering your asthma, talk with your healthcare provider about getting tested. Knowing your allergies helps you make changes to avoid them. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you get allergy shots—also known as immunotherapy—to decrease your symptoms.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brown, Kim, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Little, Frederic, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2016
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