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When are lab tests needed for diagnosing allergies?

It's important to pinpoint exactly what's sparking your allergy symptoms in the first place. Even if you think you know, it's good to check again down the road because allergies to new substances can develop. Allergy testing from a board-certified allergist or immunologist should take place if you find your symptoms are not being adequately controlled. Allergy tests are practically painless, and because they're more accurate than they used to be, they may actually detect precisely what's causing your allergy symptoms, which in turn will help your doctor tailor an effective treatment plan that works for you. Simple tests like the skin-prick test can help uncover allergies to many common substances, including dust mites, pet dander, mold and pollen.

Dr. Paul M. Ehrlich, MD
Allergist & Immunologist

A general practitioner can read diagnostic lab reports showing, say, that a patient has allergic antibodies to pollen and nuts, but not to cat dander, or any number of other combinations. However, the bigger question is whether the tests conflict with or support the patient's history, or whether the expense and time involved could have been avoided just by listening to the patient with a trained ear.

Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

More About this Book

Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

Asthma and allergies are at epidemic proportions. It doesn't have to be that way. Two experienced pediatric allergists tell everything a conscientious parent needs to know about these conditions,...
Dr. Lawrence T. Chiaramonte, MD
Allergist & Immunologist

When I was training, I had a mentor named Alan Pearlman who told me, "I never test for allergies." I thought he was crazy. Well, if he was, then I am almost crazy, because I test less and less.

As you develop clinical experience, you find that a good history is much more important than any lab report. Sometimes I will test to confirm what I already suspect.

Patients and parents of patients don't always like this. They will say, "If you don't test, what am I paying you for?" I tell them, "You are paying me to use all my experience to make you (or your child) better."

Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

More About this Book

Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

Asthma and allergies are at epidemic proportions. It doesn't have to be that way. Two experienced pediatric allergists tell everything a conscientious parent needs to know about these conditions,...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.