Allergies occur when your body reacts adversely to a foreign substance, such as a food ingredient or insect venom. These substances are called allergens. Allergies among children are on the rise. According to the AAFA, allergies affect up to 40% of children (Allergy Facts). Luckily, there are several ways you can test your child for allergies and other ailments. Writing in a journal and spending a week avoiding the suspected allergen are two methods that take very little money but a lot of effort. A little more costly, but more time-effective, is the home testing kit. More costly still but the most accurate way, visiting an allergy clinic is a great way to test your child for allergies.
Write in a Journal
If you suspect your child has an allergy but cannot figure out what is causing the little one to get sick, writing in a journal is a great way to keep track of when and where the illness occurs. Buy a journal from any bookstore and as the day goes by, record anything that happens to make him ill. This requires supervising your child for a significant amount of the day. It helps if your child is old enough to communicate clearly with you, as he can tell you what he ate, drank, or did before the sickness came on. Keep the journal for a week then bring it to the doctor’s office. With the help of your precise notes, the doctor will be able to determine what the common factor is and test for one allergy rather than a multitude.
Avoid the Suspected Allergen for a Week
Another way to test for allergies is to avoid the suspected allergen for a week. If you suspect more than one allergen, test for one allergen for a week before testing for another one. This way, you can find out for sure if your child has that allergy without the guesswork of figuring out which allergy it is of the two or more. If the suspected allergen is a food, this process is simple. Simply do not give that food or food ingredient to your child. If the allergen is dust or mold, avoiding the suspected allergen may be impossible to do and you should consider taking another route to test your child’s allergies.
Use a Home Testing Kit
Home allergy testing kits for children are available from many online stores and generally cost around $125. These testing kits are pain-free, using the DNA from your child’s hair to test for allergies. They can test for up to 600 different allergies. To use a home testing kit, cut a few strands of hair from your child’s head and place them within the test tube provided. Then ship the kit off to the company written on the kit’s instructions and the results will come back in two to eight weeks, depending on which kit you get. Some even come with a follow-up nutrition consultation to help you settle your child into a life without the allergen. The accuracy of these kits is quite good, but testing the blood or skin is always going to be more accurate.
Visit an Allergy Clinic
For the most accurate and simplest method of testing your child for allergies, you should visit an allergy clinic. Remember that allergy journal from the first method of testing for allergies? Some companies, such as Oak Brook Allergists, know that writing an allergy symptom journal is a good idea when you go to the allergist, too. Another thing you will need is your child’s complete family history of allergies and his personal medical records. These two things will help your allergist peer into your child’s life and pick out his predisposition for allergies and how having an allergy has affected your child over his lifetime. During this initial visit, the allergist may examine different parts of your child’s body, particularly his nose, throat, lungs, and skin. The next step, if you are diagnosed with an allergen, is to run a skin test, if it is needed.
This test may be uncomfortable for your child, so make sure it is necessary before proceeding. His skin will be pricked and different allergens placed on these prick marks. These allergens may cause your child to itch, break out in hives, or become nauseated. Depending on your child’s reaction to the allergens, the allergist will be able to determine which allergens affected your child’s well-being. Finally, once the diagnosis is made, treatments will be determined. Some of the treatments your allergist may recommend for your child are allergy shots, avoiding the trigger allergens, prescription medicine, or lifestyle changes.
Figuring out what allergies your child has is an important part of today’s society. There are many ways to test for allergies or other ailments. Writing in a journal and avoiding the allergen for a week are the simplest ways, but alone they are not very accurate. More accurate is a home testing kit, which tests your child’s DNA for allergies. Finally, it may be necessary to visit an allergy clinic to get the answers that will make your child feel better. Testing is not the end of the road, though. Your child will need allergy treatments, ranging from avoiding the allergen to taking prescription medication. He will require these treatments all of his life or until he grows out of the allergy.