Allergic Reactions: Tests and Diagnosis

A child with allergies will probably experience one or more tests in their course of diagnosis and treatment. As a parent, it is important for you to know that our doctors, nurses and technicians are specially trained to explain these procedures to your child and help him or her feel as comfortable as possible during their tests. Our equipment is specially designed to fit children, so our testing is accurate and as comfortable as possible.

How are allergies diagnosed?

Allergies are most commonly diagnosed through two methods: a thorough history plus physical examination, and allergen prick skin testing.

Sometimes additional tests are necessary to help identify a diagnosis. These tests may include laboratory testing, pulmonary function testing, exercise challenges and challenges to certain foods or medications.

How do doctors at Children's Hospital Colorado make a diagnosis?

Our doctors use various tests to diagnose allergies in children. These tests are also often used on an ongoing basis in your child's follow-up care.

At Children's Hospital, the evaluation of a child with a suspected allergic disorder begins with a comprehensive history that includes a thorough review of the child's symptoms, past medical history and family medical history. This is followed by a thorough physical examination.

If the symptoms occur within minutes to a couple of hours after exposure to an allergen and the history is suggestive of an immediate allergic reaction, an allergen prick skin testing is performed. It is important that medications such as antihistamines that might interfere with skin testing, so should be stopped several days before the appointment.

Skin Testing
We are thorough, but conservative, in regard to the number of skin tests performed. We realize that some children may be nervous about medical procedures such as skin testing and blood drawing, so we take every precaution to minimize their discomfort during these procedures. Our experienced and sympathetic staff is used to working with children in these situations.

Decisions regarding further testing are based on the needs of each individual child.