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Asthma: When to Get an Allergy Test

If you often have allergy symptoms—such as itchy, watery eyes; a runny nose; wheezing; sneezing; and hives or itchy skin—an allergy test can help determine what you’re allergic to. 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. 

These tests can be done for adults and children of any age. Your health care provider will test how you react to allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, molds, pollen, cockroach droppings, and many other substances.

One type of allergy test is the prick technique. During this test, a drop of an allergen is placed on your skin. Your provider pricks your skin through the drop. If you are allergic to the allergen, the spot will swell and may be itchy. If the prick tests have negative results, your provider may inject a bit of the allergen under your skin. This is a more sensitive type of test than the prick technique.

If you think you may have allergies, talk with your health care provider about getting tested. Knowing what you are allergic to can help you make changes in your living environment and routine so you can decrease your exposure to it. If your allergies meet specific medical criteria, your doctor may suggest that you get allergy shots—also known as immunotherapy—to decrease your symptoms.