An important part of diagnosing allergies is a careful evaluation of your symptoms. Your doctor will ask you several questions to rule out other conditions that may cause allergy-like symptoms.
Questions your doctor may ask to diagnose allergies
Your doctor will probably ask you a series of questions to help determine if your problem is allergy related. They could include:
- What type of symptoms do you have?
- How long have you had these symptoms?
- When symptoms occur, how long do they last?
- Are your symptoms seasonal (come and go during the year) or do they last year-round?
- Do your symptoms occur when you are outdoors or indoors such as when you clean your house?
- What makes your symptoms worse?
- Do your symptoms get worse when you are around pets? Do you have any pets?
- Do you smoke? Does anyone in your family smoke?
- Are your symptoms interfering with your daily activities or interrupting your sleep?
- What makes your symptoms better? What types of treatments have you tried? What allergy drugs are you taking now? Do these medications provide relief? Do they cause unwanted side effects?
- What other medications are you taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements?
- What type of heating system do you have? Do you have air conditioning?
- Do you have any other health conditions such as asthma or high blood pressure?
- Are you having difficulty with your sense of smell or taste?
- How much can you modify your lifestyle to reduce your exposure to these allergens?
Physical examination to diagnose allergies
In addition to asking questions your doctor will examine you. Your skin, eyes, nose, ears and throat may be examined. Your doctor will look for inflammation (redness or swelling), drainage or other signs of allergy symptoms.
Other tests may be performed - based on your doctor's recommendations after the medical history and examination - to determine which allergens are causing your symptoms. These may include a skin test or blood test.
Questions to ask your doctor about allergies
You should also ask your doctor questions regarding any of your concerns. Among those you should include are:
- What substances are causing my allergies?
- What allergy symptoms should I be concerned about?
- When is it necessary to seek medical advice?
- What allergy medications or other treatments are available? What are the benefits/side effects of each treatment?
- Will I need allergy injections?
- What guidelines should I follow if I'm prescribed allergy medication?
- Should I take medicine all the time or only when my allergy symptoms become worse?
- Should I stop exercising outside if I have allergies?
- What types of plants are better to put in my garden if I have allergies?
- How can I avoid or reduce exposure to certain allergens?
- What can I do around my house to reduce allergies?
- Should I avoid going outside during certain times of the year? What can I do to decrease allergy symptoms when I do have to go outside?
- How can I tell the difference between allergies and a cold or the flu?
- Will changing my diet improve my symptoms?
- How often should I come for follow-up appointments?