If you suspect you have had an allergic reaction, it is essential to identify the cause by carefully evaluating your symptoms assisted by allergy skin prick testing so that you can then take steps to avoid the allergen and/or receive appropriate medication and advice. There are currently several different forms of treatment for allergies.
A detailed and thorough history will be taken which is essential to making a correct allergy diagnosis. The consultation will establish the relationship between the symptoms and the allergen exposure. The progression of the reaction and responses to any treatment that may have been given.
Most patients will undergo skin prick testing to assist in the diagnosis and overall management of the allergic condition. Skin prick testing involves placing test substances (allergens) on the skin of the forearm that are then pricked into the skin using a sterile lancet. This is not a painful technique and is easily performed on both children and adults. The tests are read after 15 minutes. Positive tests will feel itchy and a small red raised wheal will appear on your arm where the allergen was placed. You can be tested to a variety of foods such as nuts, fish, shellfish, meat, fruits, wheat and yeast, inhaled allergens such as grass and tree pollens, pets, house dust mites and fungal spores, and to venoms such as bee and wasp. Spirometry is a breathing test that measures in detail the function of your lungs and involves blowing into a specialised machine called a spirometer.
A clinical diagnosis based on the history and results of your allergy tests will be made and an individualised treatment plan will be developed. The quality of life of allergy sufferers can be improved dramatically by correct diagnosis, allergen identification and specialist advice. The impact of an allergy on individuals and their family must not be underestimated. New treatments such as desensitisation to grass pollen are now available.