According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.3% of adults in the United States have hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Hay fever causes signs and symptoms similar to a cold, like a runny nose and sneezing, but it’s actually triggered by allergens like pollen.
Before you can adequately equip yourself for allergy season, you first need to determine what’s causing your symptoms. Here are some ways you can detect if you have a pollen allergy.
Physical Symptoms of a Pollen Allergy
When the body identifies allergens, it can react in various ways. Symptoms may differ from person to person. However, typical signs affect the respiratory system and include sneezing, a runny nose, and nasal congestion. Other reactions may manifest through the skin in the form of itchiness, a skin rash (contact dermatitis), hives, and even swelling.
While rare, a severe allergy to pollen may also cause anaphylactic shock. This causes an individual’s blood pressure to suddenly drop and airway to narrow, making it difficult to breathe. Emergency medical treatment is necessary. Those who are prone to anaphylaxis or have severe allergies carry an epinephrine shot, such as an EpiPen as a precaution.
If you experience symptoms when you step outside when pollen may be in the air, you may be allergic. However, the following tests are a more conclusive way of determining whether you have a pollen allergy.
Skin Prick Allergy Test
A skin prick allergy test, skin puncture, or scratch test can identify a person’s allergies. An allergist can perform this test to check on 50 different potential allergens at once.
Your provider begins by drawing small marks on your skin. They may do so on your arm or back. They then apply a small amount of protein from various allergens inside or next to the mark they previously made. They will then use a lancet to prick into the skin.
Your allergist will use two other substances to check if your body is reacting normally. The first is histamine, which elicits a skin response from most people. If it doesn’t, the skin prick test may not effectively determine an allergy. The second is saline or glycerin, which typically does not cause a reaction. If it does, your skin may be especially sensitive. In this case, the medical staff will have to be cautious when interpreting the test results to prevent a false diagnosis.
After 15–20 minutes, your provider will come back to check the area they tested. If a red bump similar to a mosquito bite appears, you are allergic to the substance tested in that particular area.
Blood Allergy Test
Blood allergy tests are another way of determining a pollen allergy. Skin tests are more common, as blood tests may not be as sensitive as the former. However, if your doctor thinks that you or your child may react severely to allergens during a skin test, they may instead recommend testing your blood to determine if you are allergic to pollen.
During a blood allergy test, your allergist collects a sample of your blood and sends it to a lab. The test determines the amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in the bloodstream. Higher levels can help your doctor identify specific allergies.
Pollen Allergy Testing in Georgetown, TX
The best method to find out if you have a pollen allergy is to undergo allergy testing. Knowing your allergens can help you prepare for allergy season better and receive accurate treatment.
If you’re in Georgetown, Texas, our specialists at Georgetown ENT are ready to serve and help. We can perform a skin prick or blood allergy test to determine if you’re allergic to pollen. To schedule an appointment, you may call (512) 869-0604 or use our secure online form. We can take care of your allergy needs and help you live more comfortably.