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Allergies: To test or not to test *UPDATE* (with questions)


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Youngest ds has had eye swelling and redness. We thought it was bacterial conjunctivitis since he also had an ear infection. He has been on two different antibiotics and then prescription eye drops. This kid has always had eye troubles. At only 18 months old, his eyes were dry and red. He would cry, rubbing his eyes because they were itchy and painful. I cut out most dairy and it mostly went away. Now, after not seeing this "conjunctivits" completely resolved (after two different antibiotics and eye drops) we were referred to an eye doctor. She said she has never seen such allergy laden eyes in someone so young. She says they are extremely irritated and dry. She has prescribed steroid drops but thinks we should see an allergist.

We have an array of food problems in our family. Should I even waste my time with an allergist? Seriously, I can almost guarantee it to be a food. Would you test or just trudge through the elimination diet(s)? My oldest dd was tested and never showed a problem to a food that we KNEW was a problem for her. I am afraid to spend the $$ and not find out anything. Any thoughts or experiences?

 

Edited to add: This child will be 4 in a few months, if that matters :)

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Test.

 

I would've never pegged the third kid we put through allergy testing's list. He had fewer allergens than we suspected but they were so severe it seemed like he had more going on. This way I don't have to limit him as severely as I would've and I can do more timely premedication for environmental stuff.

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Test! There could be more than just food allergies involved. I am highly allergic to pretty much everything, but knowing exactly what has been very helpful. The last time they tested me (I have to be tested every time we move to see if there are allergens in the area I need to be aware of) they did 104 tests on my back and 99 of them were positive. I've had testing done on my back, which is horrible, but when they test my arms, they have to do it in rounds and it takes forever and the itching is just constant.

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Definitely test. You don't know how many layers of allergies there are. If it's just one, then that is easy to figure out. If it's many, then the allergy test will save you time. Either way you save time. Allergies can be complicated, though, so definitely test.

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Testing was helpful to us to a point (and maybe just a bad allergist). We just got sent to a dietitian (all through the same insurance, so she had access to all the same test results) and (crossing fingers) so far her recommendations have been more helpful. What the allergist said was o.k. to eat, she said to eliminate. I think it was partly a difference in perspective, the allergist was looking at keeping DS alive and the dietitian was looking at that he was still sick.

 

Personally, I don't think I could have done it on my own; it was all too overwhelming. But, if you've walked this road before, you may have better results.

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99 of 104? wow :scared:

 

Yep. I'm seriously allergic to everything. Some of the positives "flared" so big they ran into each other. It was awful. I cried and cried because it itched so much, some from the very second they put them on me, but we had to wait 15 minutes before they could do anything. They spray this stuff on your back that's supposed to stop the swelling and itching, but it didn't work. They sprayed me 4 times and finally ended up giving me a shot of something.

I've been through this multiple times and it is awful, but it has helped pinpoint things. I ended up on allergy shots and got 4 a week for 2 years. That wasn't fun, but it really helped. I was on them for 4 years at another place, 3 at another and for 6 years when I was a child. I still have horrible allergies, but they would be so much worse if I hadn't done the shots. People think I've died in the Spring because they never see me. Unless I absolutely have to, I do NOT leave the house.

 

This is why I suggest testing because it can be so complicated. You could try elimination diets all you want, but if it's environmental, that won't do anything.

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I would test. Having the blood test results done each year gives our allergist some insight on how the allergies have changed year to year. When they have changed by a certain amount he determines it is time to attempt a food challenge. At 4 it would be good to establish a baseline so your doctor can chart the allergies over time.

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Okay, ya'll have convinced me to test. I have an appointment for April 5th.

 

So, how will they test a soon-to-be 4 year old? Will they use the scratch test? Enlighten me so I know what to prepare for :)

 

Also, if I "avoid" any foods, will that alter the results? DS is sensitive (not sure if it is an allergy?) to dairy but I still give him cheese. Is keeping cheese in his diet enough to keep the test accurate?

 

Mom in High Heels, I am so sorry for all of your allergies. It sounds awful :(

 

Thanks for all of the help ya'll have given!

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Avoiding foods will not cause a problem with the tests. DS has both scratch and blood tests. At his first appointment (just turned one) they did a scratch test on his back and ordered blood tests done at the local hospital.

 

If they are going to do testing they won't want ds to have any allergy medicine (clartin, benedryl, etc) for several days before.

 

I hope you find some answers!

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They will do a scratch test and possibly a blood test as well as asthma testing. The scratch test will be on his back, and may need to happen on more than one visit. Just make sure he has had NO allergy meds of any sort for at least three days before the test. (They say 24 hours, but I personally do not get accurate test results unless I have been med-free for longer. It's an expensive round of testing, so go with a minimum of three days without meds to be sure of an accurate test.)

 

There is one factor will make a BIG difference in how well the test goes. The office should have the pricks prepped, ideally on a set of "spiders" which can prick 6-8 at a time. It's less torturous that way than doing a million little pricks over the course of 10+ minutes. The pricks should be prepped and ready. There was one occasion when ds was getting tested that they did not use any spiders for some reason, and didn't have the pricks prepped. The tech took longer than twenty minutes to administer the pricks one at a time. It was VERY hard on ds, and a whole set of the scratches were invalidated and had to be redone. I pitched a fit when I heard about this (dh had taken ds in for that visit and didn't know any better) and insisted on a fully prepped set of spiders for the last round. The spiders make it so that the pricking takes just a minute or two, followed by simply waiting 15-20 minutes for a reaction to develop, and then recording the reaction.

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I just reread your OP. Have you tried oral antihistamines? My dd with the worst allergies had something the doctor called "cobblestoning" in her lower eyelids. She used OTC allergy eye drops and an oral antihistamine. This combo helped tremendously. She was able to stop the eye drops after a few days.

 

For testing, they may use your ds's back or his forearms. My kids have had it done both places. It really helped my kids to call it "scratch testing" instead of "shots". :scared: One doctor who intended to do scratch testing and injections prescribed Emla cream before the test. That helped calm the anxiety in my needle phobic kids.

 

Testing was totally worth it to me. My dd only had environmental allergies, but the doctor was able to make lifestyle recommendations that made a huge difference in her comfort and health.

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I just reread your OP. Have you tried oral antihistamines? My dd with the worst allergies had something the doctor called "cobblestoning" in her lower eyelids. She used OTC allergy eye drops and an oral antihistamine. This combo helped tremendously. She was able to stop the eye drops after a few days.

 

For testing, they may use your ds's back or his forearms. My kids have had it done both places. It really helped my kids to call it "scratch testing" instead of "shots". :scared: One doctor who intended to do scratch testing and injections prescribed Emla cream before the test. That helped calm the anxiety in my needle phobic kids.

 

Testing was totally worth it to me. My dd only had environmental allergies, but the doctor was able to make lifestyle recommendations that made a huge difference in her comfort and health.

 

 

He has not had antihistamines. I am by nature a non-meds person. I might not try those until after we test.

 

"cobblestoning" ..... this might be what ds has. She said he has raised bumps in his lower eyelids. I bet it is the same thing!

 

I am curious about what lifestyle changes were "prescribed"?

 

Thanks :)

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I am curious about what lifestyle changes were "prescribed"?

 

Thanks :)

 

Dd's allergic response to the grass portion of the scratch test was so severe the welt went from her forearm(close to elbow) all the way up to her armpit! Until the test, I had been bending over backwards to keep her on a low allergen diet thinking it was food allergies, and keep her free of dust (my big allergy). But I had been doing everything wrong for someone with grass allergies.

 

It turns out that the highest levels of pollen occur in the morning, and we were in one of the grass seed capitals of the country. Every single night and morning, we had the windows open to cool off the house. Almost every morning, we went for a walk to get exercise and have our "Charlotte Mason" experiences. :tongue_smilie: We went on lots of hikes and park days, which always left dd a wreck.

 

So, the doctor said to keep windows shut and just use A/C. We bought HEPA air purifiers for every room. Dd learned to shower, wash her hair, do a saline nose rinse, and change her clothes after being outside. It made a huge, huge difference! We don't stay at the park if someone is mowing.

 

Dust mites are my big allergen. I have to wash my sheets and blankets in hot water every weekend. I change my pillowcase every couple of days. Vacuuming and dusting are chores done by dh and dds. If I do something really dusty in the garage or a closet, I know I need to wash my face and do a saline nose rinse. OTOH, dust doesn't bother either of my kiddos any more. They don't need to follow the dust protocol, and I don't need to follow the pollen protocol.

 

Maybe that is more than you wanted to know, but there it all is! :w00t:

 

We also did allergy shots and prescription meds, but the other things played a big part in reducing symptoms and meds.

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Dd's allergic response to the grass portion of the scratch test was so severe the welt went from her forearm(close to elbow) all the way up to her armpit! Until the test, I had been bending over backwards to keep her on a low allergen diet thinking it was food allergies, and keep her free of dust (my big allergy). But I had been doing everything wrong for someone with grass allergies.

 

It turns out that the highest levels of pollen occur in the morning, and we were in one of the grass seed capitals of the country. Every single night and morning, we had the windows open to cool off the house. Almost every morning, we went for a walk to get exercise and have our "Charlotte Mason" experiences. :tongue_smilie: We went on lots of hikes and park days, which always left dd a wreck.

 

So, the doctor said to keep windows shut and just use A/C. We bought HEPA air purifiers for every room. Dd learned to shower, wash her hair, do a saline nose rinse, and change her clothes after being outside. It made a huge, huge difference! We don't stay at the park if someone is mowing.

 

Dust mites are my big allergen. I have to wash my sheets and blankets in hot water every weekend. I change my pillowcase every couple of days. Vacuuming and dusting are chores done by dh and dds. If I do something really dusty in the garage or a closet, I know I need to wash my face and do a saline nose rinse. OTOH, dust doesn't bother either of my kiddos any more. They don't need to follow the dust protocol, and I don't need to follow the pollen protocol.

 

Maybe that is more than you wanted to know, but there it all is! :w00t:

 

We also did allergy shots and prescription meds, but the other things played a big part in reducing symptoms and meds.

 

 

No, that is a lot of help and it makes complete sense! Thank you. I guess I will just hold my breathe and hope that his allergy shows on the test (fingers crossed). I know that antihistamines should not be used before testing, but what about these steroid eye drops? Are they okay to use?

 

Thanks again.

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I know that antihistamines should not be used before testing, but what about these steroid eye drops? Are they okay to use?

 

Thanks again.

 

You can probably google the name of the eye drop with the phrase "allergy testing" and see if it is on the list of medications to discontinue. It is probably okay. The receptionist said to continue any steroid medications when I scheduled my most recent testing. Some reflux medications have antihistamine side effects, but your ds probably isn't on any of those if you avoid medications. ;)

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For those wondering about cost, my insurance plans (have had HMO, EPO, PPO, POS plans) always covered everything except the copay. With some plans, I needed a PCP referral first, though. My most recent one did not require it, though. I know that's not always the case, but we've had very good plans and some really bad coverage and they all have covered so far.

 

Good luck, OP. One of mine was almost three during the first round of testing and it was one of the best decisions we made. Our allergist is wonderful and counsels us very well every year. She gives us a lot of support. We needed it so much in the beginning since both food and environmental allergies meant some big changes for us.

 

You should be able to check with the office about the timing of medications. Ours sends us a list every year with a chart for the most common meds and how long we should be off the particular med (up to five days in some cases) before the testing.

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We had it done for DD as a toddler, the scratch testing; it wasn't terribly helpful, because we already knew that she reacted to milk (hives around her mouth). However, our DS1 was showing signs of allergies last year, and we got the scratch testing done for him, so that we could have a better idea of what the allergies were. They weren't food allergies; they were environmental ones, pollens and such, but we didn't know which ones. I think the testing can be helpful if you really don't have a clue about what's causing the reactions. In DS1's case, the testing did identify the culprits, but it was only somewhat helpful -- some of the allergens are just hard to avoid. We do give him Zyrtec in the spring, though, and we were able to do a few things, like put allergy covers on pillows and mattresses. It was helpful to find out, for sure, that he wasn't reacting to cat dander, because that would have been really difficult if we'd had to get rid of DD's cat. So yes, I vote for doing the testing if you don't know what the culprits are.

 

DD did okay with the scratch testing, but it was only a few tests at her age. DS1 was miserable with the little pokes (and some slightly larger pokes), but he has a very, very low pain tolerance. But he was fine afterward.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Saw the allergist today. Ds showed a slight allergy to cats, weed, and grasses. The doctor didn't think that the severity of his reaction could possibly be from such a mild skin scratch reaction. She pulled some labs for an allergy panel and some tests for immunological disorders.

 

So, has anyone found the blood test to be more helpful than the scratch test? Do you know if they are less/more accurate?

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Our pedi says the new blood tests that are done for allergens are as accurate as the scratch test. The old blood tests were not.

 

 

 

This is good to know. I know that the old tests were completely inaccurate so I was feeling leary of a blood test. I didn't know there was a newer, more accurate version.

 

Did you find the test helpful in your situation?

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Saw the allergist today. Ds showed a slight allergy to cats, weed, and grasses. The doctor didn't think that the severity of his reaction could possibly be from such a mild skin scratch reaction. She pulled some labs for an allergy panel and some tests for immunological disorders.

 

So, has anyone found the blood test to be more helpful than the scratch test? Do you know if they are less/more accurate?

 

Did they test any foods or just environmental allergens?

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As a side note - two people I know with severe allergies were able to reduce their meds by taking d-hist, a natural antihistamine that I've been buying on amazon. Also, I have read that people who go paleo often find that their non-food allergies resolve or greatly diminish as well. HTH!

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My experience is that they are only willing to do so many tests based on the child's size. When DD was 2, they'd only do 2 trays of tests (16 total tests), but with my DS they did 3 or 4 trays this last time when he was 8 (so 24-32 tests). Plus they don't have tests for everything that you could be allergic to. So maybe a blood test can be more specific? I just know that when DS reacted to mangoes and I asked the allergist about it, he said they don't have a mango test but that it's related to tree nut allergies which DS does have.

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My experience is that they are only willing to do so many tests based on the child's size. When DD was 2, they'd only do 2 trays of tests (16 total tests), but with my DS they did 3 or 4 trays this last time when he was 8 (so 24-32 tests). Plus they don't have tests for everything that you could be allergic to. So maybe a blood test can be more specific? I just know that when DS reacted to mangoes and I asked the allergist about it, he said they don't have a mango test but that it's related to tree nut allergies which DS does have.

 

 

This is good to know. I hope the blood test gives us answers. We are back to the thought that his problems could be auto immune. They eye specialist said she thought it was allergies but the allergist thinks it could be auto immune :(

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