ADHD: A Parenting Guide

Allergy Testing Identifies The Specific Culprits In A Person's Hay Fever Symptoms

Many people suffer from hay fever without knowing exactly what they are allergic to. They assume the problem is pollen, but what plant is causing the unpleasant symptoms? Allergy tests can determine which kinds of pollen are resulting in the worst symptoms for a patient. This person also might be reacting to mold spores from outdoor sources.

About Allergic Reactions

An allergy is essentially an incorrect response by the immune system to a harmless substance. The immune system produces antibodies to the substance it considers a threatening invader. Those antibodies are specific, explaining why a person might react to oak pollen and not to that of pine trees. Allergy testing identifies the offender.

Hay Fever Symptoms

Sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, and irritated, watery eyes are the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies. Some individuals experience wheezing and use an over-the-counter inhaler as needed. Fatigue is possible. Some people have worse reactions than others do, dealing with a general feeling of malaise unless they take medication.

A Seasonal Problem

The time of year when patients develop hay fever provides clues about which pollen types are causing the problem. In places where spring weather starts in the wintertime, people may deal with seasonal allergies beginning in February. Some individuals have symptoms most months of the year, while others are only affected for shorter time frames. For example, late summer symptoms might be connected with ragweed. 

Allergy Testing

A skin-prick test identifies which pollen types a patient reacts to. Now, this individual might be able to modify their behavior enough to reduce these symptoms. For example, it could be possible to avoid walking along a street lined with oak trees in the spring. 

In some instances, the person actually is not allergic to pollen but rather to mold. After the doctor discusses the test results with the patient, this individual may realize that piles of leaves on the ground are the culprit. When leaves aren't removed promptly, they typically become wet and stay damp underneath. This is an ideal environment for mold to grow.

Possible Solutions

Once an allergy to a particular substance is confirmed, the doctor may suggest treatment with prescription medication or immunotherapy, commonly called allergy shots. The injections send a tiny amount of the allergen into the patient's body, gradually teaching the immune system that the substance is harmless.

In other cases, the patient can make adjustments that significantly decrease the problem. Removing ragweed as soon as it pops up in the yard is an example.