Your doctor uses a physical exam to help determine what is causing your nasal allergy symptoms. As part of that exam, the doctor will look at your nose, eyes, throat, ears, sinuses, and lungs.
Signs of Allergies in the Nose
Your doctor looks into your nose to examine your mucous membranes. If you have allergies, they may be swollen and pale or bluish. Your doctor may take nasal smears to examine under a microscope. Specifically, the doctor will look for the number and type of special cells called eosinophils. Often called "allergy cells," these cells can help the doctor determine the type of problems you have. Your doctor may also want to take a sinus X-ray or CT scan. Four out of every 10 people with year-round nasal inflammation have changes in their sinuses that can indicate an inflammation of the sinuses, called sinusitis, with or without infection, or nasal polyps.
Other Tests You May Need
Your doctor may do a number of other routine tests to help determine if you have nasal allergies. These include blood counts, liver and kidney function screens, and urine examinations. Tests such as these help rule out other health conditions. Finally, your doctor may suggest allergy testing to determine exactly what's causing your allergies. Once you know that, your allergy treatment can be more specific.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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