Diagnosing Allergies

Seeing A Doctor About Your Allergies

Diagnosing nasal allergies can be tricky. Your first visit to your doctor will likely involve lots of questions. Be sure to tell your doctor if your allergy symptoms typically worsen during certain seasons or times of the day, in particular locations, or with exposure to pets or other triggers. The more information you can provide about your allergy symptoms and possible triggers, the better.

Your doctor will ask questions about your personal medical history. This information helps provide a complete picture of your condition and may suggest likely allergy triggers. Be as thorough and honest as possible. Be sure to include any allergies or illnesses you've had or currently have, any surgeries you have had, and all alcohol, recreational drugs, prescription and over-the-counter medications, supplements, and herbal remedies you use. In children with allergies, birth history is also important.

You should also tell your doctor if your parents or other family members had or have allergies. If people in your family have allergies, there is a strong likelihood that you will have allergies. Allergies tend to run in families, and having parents with allergies significantly increases your risk of developing them.

  • If both your parents have allergies, you have a 70% chance of developing them. That's almost four times the normal risk.
  • If only one parent has allergies, you still have a nearly 40% chance of developing them.
  • If neither of your parents has allergies, your risk of becoming allergic drops to about 10%.

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Written by Karen Serrano, MD Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reviewed by Lisa V. Suffian, MD

Instructor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy and Pulmonary Medicine at Saint Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine

Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Saint Louis University

Board certified in Allergy and Immunology

Last updated June 2008