Allergy testing is something that many parents don’t feel that their child needs, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because your child has never had a life-threatening reaction to a food or animal, that doesn’t mean they don’t have an allergy to it. Knowing more about what allergy testing is and why your child might need it is important for every parent. These are a few of the most commonly asked questions about allergy testing, with answers that will be easy to understand.

What is allergy testing?

Allergy testing involves a process to determine what your child might be allergic to, and to what severity that allergy is. The most common form of allergy testing is skin testing. This involves a series of microdoses of different allergens being introduced onto the child’s skin with a small skin prick. The allergist will leave the allergens on the child’s skin for up to two days, and then inspect it for signs of a reaction. This process can be itchy and unpleasant, but the end results are worth it. Any antihistamines or allergy medication your child takes should be stopped up to 13 days prior to this testing to achieve accurate results. If your child is unable to safely stop taking the antihistamines, the allergist may perform a blood test to reveal allergies.  If you believe your child is allergic to a specific food, the allergist may recommend food elimination to reveal allergies. This involves cutting the food at hand out of the child’s diet for one to two weeks to see if there’s an improvement in the symptoms. This type of allergy testing is usually the least preferred and least commonly used option because it can yield unsure results.

Signs Your Child Needs Allergy Testing

4 to 6% of kids suffer from food allergies, 8 to 10% have asthma, and 15 to 25% suffer from hay fever. This means there’s a good chance that your child will suffer from some form of allergies. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a child with allergies is very important. If your child suffers from on-going cold-like symptoms, asthma, or adverse reactions to certain foods or environments, it’s time to get them tested. Watch for these symptoms to appear at the same time each year, or around certain foods and animals.

How Can Allergy Testing Help?

Getting your child tested for various allergens will allow you and your child to know what things to avoid in the future that might trigger their allergies. If allergies are severe enough, the allergist may prescribe an allergy medication or emergency medication in case of exposure. Having these medications on hand will not only help to treat the annoying symptoms, but they could save your child’s life in the case of a severe reaction.