Hay Fever Tests


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There are several different ways to diagnose hay fever related allergies. Testing generally involves some form of skin test such as a series of simple skin prick tests. However, in some cases, where it is not practical to use the skin for testing due to various medical reasons, it is more practical to try and diagnose the cause of hay fever via blood tests. Initially, you should visit your GP and have a thorough physical exam and discuss your general health history. Once you and your GP have discussed this, possible routes of hay fever diagnosis can be looked at and a decision can be reached on the best possible way forward towards symptom relief. Reaching a diagnosis can be achieved in several different ways. Listed below are the most common diagnostic methods used today for targeting the cause of an allergic hay fever response.

  • Skin Prick Test
  • The skin prick test involves making a small needle prick in the skin in which to introduce a tiny amount of the allergen. Should you be allergic to the sample being applied, a reaction will be set off in the body. Mast cells will be prompted to release histamine. This in turn will cause the redness and swelling seen in an allergic reaction. If a reaction does occur, it is localised to the specific allergen that was applied at the prick site. Depending on the number of tests you are actually having at a particular time, the duration of the screening can vary.

  • Intradermal Test
  • This test differs from the skin prick test in that a syringe is used to inject the allergen underneath the skin as opposed to shallowly on the surface layer. It is a more sensitive test and a good alternative should the above test fail to produce a positive result.

  • Patch Testing
  • Similar in theory to the prick test and Intradermal test, the difference being the allergen is applied via a small patch.

  • RAST test
  • A RAST (radio allegro sorbent) test involves drawing blood, and is usually used as an alternative in cases in which it is not possible to do the more common skin tests. This might be in cases where certain medications are being taken by the patient, or where the actual skin itself is not suitable for testing.

  • WBC Differentiation
  • The white blood cell differentiation test can be used to detect the severity of allergic reactions. It is usually ordered as part of a larger test panel called a complete blood count (CBC.) The test will show how many of each type of blood cell is present. Elevated eosinophil levels tend to indicate an allergic response is likely to be occurring.

Once a diagnosis has been reached on the causative allergen and a particular individuals sensitivity towards hay fever has been established, they can then move forward to tailoring a treatment regime that best suits them and their lifestyle.


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