Is my child allergic?

By admin
13 August 2014

What do you do when you suspect your child has allergies? The first step is to take them to a doctor, who might have an allergy test done. There are two types of allergy tests.

What do you do when you suspect your child has allergies? The first step is to take them to a doctor, who might have an allergy test done. There are two types of allergy tests.

Skin-prick test

  • This test is done on the skin to identify the allergen (the cause of the allergic reaction).
  • A small quantity of the suspected allergen is placed on the skin of the forearm or back in a diluted liquid form. The skin is then lightly pricked through the allergen with a sterile instrument. The procedure shouldn’t be painful. If the skin gets red and especially if it swells the test is positive and the patient is probably allergic to the allergen.
  • Results should be available within 15 minutes. The test is usually for three to six allergens at a time.
  • Advantages: it’s quick, cheaper than a blood test, simple and relatively safe.

Blood test

  • A small quantity of blood is drawn from the arm and sent to a laboratory for testing. The most common blood test is done to determine how many antibodies for a specific allergen are present. The antibodies are known as IgE (which stands for immunoglobulin E). The more IgE bodies there are for a certain allergen the greater the chance you’re allergic to it.
  • Advantages: Can be done on people with skin conditions such as eczema, for which skin-prick tests aren’t recommended, it’s a standardised test, and it’s accurate and can be done for a greater variety of allergens.

Who does the tests?

  • Skin-prick tests are done by specialists such as ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists, pulmonologists or junior doctors.
  • Blood tests are done by testing services or laboratories such as PathCare and Ampath.

Dr Adelaide Andrade, a GP of Cape Town who writes a weekly column in YOU, says the tests must be requested by a doctor. “We first do a screening test – also with blood – and take a complete history on the possible nature of the allergies.” The history includes factors such as symptoms, regularity of allergic reactions, family history, infections and so forth. Andrade says the price of allergy tests depends on how many allergens are tested for.

At what age should children be tested?

You should consult your doctor about when children can be tested but Andrade suggests you wait until your child is at least two years old because allergy tests are usually reliable only from that age.

-Suzaan Hauman

Sources: Webmd.com, health24.com, medicinenet.com

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