Meeting your GP about allergy testing
You may be wondering what will happen during the GP appointment and how you can make sure you are well prepared. The pointers below should help you understand more about the allergy testing process and what to do if you are not able to get an allergy test for your child.
Before the appointment
Gather useful information to support your reasons for wanting an allergy test, including:
Does your child have eczema or itchy skin? Do they have a wheeze or cough or feel breathless or are they using their blue inhaler several times a week? Do they have a bad tummy (constipation or diarrhoea) or vomiting? Do they feel light-headed? How severe are their symptoms?
What foods trigger your child's allergy symptoms e.g. nuts, eggs, soya, milk? What quantity of food causes a reaction: a lot or a little? Can other things trigger a reaction (does your child's asthma get worse outside your home? Or is it worse at night?) such as pollen, dust or pet fur? Does your child's asthma get worse outside your home? Or is it worse at night?
How soon do they get a reaction after eating the food or after contact? Immediately after or a few hours or days after? If it's immediate, it might be that they have an allergy and would benefit from a allergy test. If it's immediate, within 2 hours, it is more likely to be an allergy and they would benefit from a test.
Do your child's reactions tend to happen inside or outside of the home? If it's inside, it could be dust or pet hairs, for example, but if it's outside, pollen may be the trigger
Does your child or anyone else in your family suffer from eczema, hay fever or asthma? Do any relatives have food allergies or anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction)?
During the appointment
When you're in the doctor's office they will ask you a number of questions to try and gauge whether your child is presenting clinical symptoms of allergy. They may ask questions such as "What kind of symptoms appear?" and "Is there a strong connection with a particular food?" Based on this conversation it will be apparent to them whether your child should have an allergy test. If your child needs a test, the doctor will explain which type of test will be used How is it done? and you will be advised on how get it done. If based on the information you've provided the GP does not warrant an allergy test for your child, but you still suspect allergy, you could ask them to refer you to a specialist for further investigation.
After the appointment
If you had an allergy test done for via your GP, waiting for the results can be hard! If you get a negative result (no allergies detected) you can feel reassured that you have done the right thing by taking precaution. Your GP may invite you back to further discuss the symptoms you described in your initial visit. If you get a positive result (one or more allergies detected), your doctor will advise you on the course of action required, usually to avoid all instances of the allergen and take precaution with daily life/eating. You may also be referred to dietitian for further guidance. If your child has asthma and confirmed allergies they should see a specialist. See NICE guidance
If your GP did not think an allergy test was necessary and you still have your suspicions, you may want to consider seeking a second opinion or contacting a private health provider. Avoid buying commercially available allergy tests, including those available on the internet, because they are not reliable or accurate.