Have you been offered an allergy test?

Having seen a few posts where people have said doctors have been reluctant to offer an allergy test, I'm wondering if this is a common problem?

Personally I struggled with severe asthma my whole childhood - saw many nurses, GPs, consultants, etc., none suggested an allergy test and finally one consultant even just deemed that it was probably dust and had my mum wearing herself out constantly dusting and changing bedding.

It was not until the age of 18 during a chest infection/exacerbation so severe I had a peak flow of 250 and stopped responding to inhalers that I was finally offered an allergy test. I was severely allergic to cats and dogs, both of which we owned. I was not allergic to dust at all. No GP or consultant had ever even enquired whether we had pets. 

Allergy test literally changed my life - now live in pet-free home, asthma is under control, no steroids, exacerbations or chest infections for several years. 

Surely as everybody knows asthma is usually triggered by something, as soon as asthma is diagnosed it makes sense to determine what those triggers are. But this doesn't seem to be the case for many people. What have others' experiences been? Were you offered a test?

14 Replies

  • I've never been offered one.  I did ask about the possibility of having one about twenty five years ago (I was in my late twenties at the time).  I was told by a consultant in respiratory medicine that there was no point as the chances were high that they would never pick up everything I was allergic to.  I've never asked for one since.

  • I have had allergy tests done on the instructions of my Respiratory Consultant. 

  • I am glad you finally got the help you needed and deserved.   I have had asthma for 30 years and have never been offered an allergy test.  I have never asked for one though.  I had to do my own research and found the common triggers and try and elimate them as much as possible.  Fortunately I am not allergic to pets but am to dust mites.   So I wash all my bedding in at least 60% to kill them.  It definitely helps.  x

  • Yup, this is what I did - over time I've worked out what I am allergic to.   It has to be remembered as well that allergies can change.  

    And yes, I also wash all bedding at 60 degrees; dust mites have always been a major trigger of my asthma.  

  • I had the tests as a young teenager and i reacted strongly to all 16 things I was tested for. I reacted to dog, cat, rabbit, horse hair, grass etc. Although my skin reacts I do not get an asthma attack from any of those.

    I finally found out my asthma was triggered by house mites ( I moved into a new house and we ripped the carpets out as they were so disgusting) this improved my asthma so much, buying a dyson and leather sofas etc has basically cured me of asthma attacks. My last bad attack was 3 years ago and I feel very lucky.  

  • Do any of those things trigger hayfever/allergic rhinitis?  I'm pretty certain I would test positive to cat or rabbit, but the immediate reaction I would get to both would be itchy eyes and a streaming nose unless I had used nasal spray and eyedrops before coming into contact with them.  

  • Nope the only reaction I get from my dog or lying on the grass is a red rash.

    I have in the last 4 years started to get hayfever from tree pollen which causes itchy eyes and a very runny nose but doesnt seem to trigger my asthma (fingers crossed)

  • I've had asthma all my life and have only just been offered one! I'm waiting for the appointment to come through from the Asthma Clinic for it.

  • Thanks everyone for your replies, it's interesting that for many what might trigger an allergic (skin/rhinitis) reaction does not necessarily trigger asthma  (in my case they are one and the same). Perhaps that is why allergy tests are not always offered - if they only diagnose skin/rhnitic allergy and not necessarily the causes of asthma?

  • Hi.. Yes I was sent to St Mary's hospital. They did 5 lines on my arm animals'hair, mould, house mites, dust and pollen. 1. I never got the report 2. I didn't know which pollen it was. Probably grass the GP said. She said it must swell up well nothing did, but I know I react to trees so it was useless and didn't go any further. I would have to pay for more precise testing, there's not much point I take an antihistamine when my nose is itching it is a better sign.

  • My daughter (6) has asthma. I have twice asked her NHS consultant for allergy testing and he tells me there is no point (?!). He says she might get false positives and if she had a bad food allergy, we'd spot it. I wanted to try testing for dust mite allergy but he says, dust mites can't be avoided, so again, he didn't offer testing.

    I wanted to test to know if it is worth the effort of removing her bedroom carpet (colder in winter, more noise, etc) and buyig anti allergy bedding etc. It seems sensible to me to try to test for this before going to the trouble of removing carpets etc.

  • He can't deny you testing. I don't know about antihistamines over the counter for a child but if so they are your best bet. You will soon know. Hope you solve it xx

  • House mites don't exist over 1000m, from that point of view he's right they are everywhere. My GP once told me the pillow is the worse culprit, to change it every month and a fresh pillow case everyday. It helped. Good luck!!

  • Well, I was diagnosed too early in my life (when I was 2) so I have no darn idea if I had a test done. But I've been reading this forum and gone curious about those tests too. I'm going to see my resp doctor in a month for the regular check up and I'd like to know more about what type of test this is. Do you think you can shed some light onto it? I don't live in the UK and here people usually offer singular allergy tests that are quite expensive.

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