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Allergic Rhinitis Diagnosis

Overview

Your doctor or allergist will begin by taking a detailed medical history, which will include questions about your lifestyle, eating habits, family and medical history, and medication use. To establish an allergic rhinitis diagnosis, your doctor will also do a physical exam and will check inside your nose for signs of inflammation. Then, the health care professional can put in place a treatment plan for the allergic rhinitis.

Testing for allergic rhinitis may include:

  • Skin test—Skin testing is one of the easiest, most sensitive, and least expensive ways to diagnose allergic rhinitis. A tiny allergen particle is placed under the skin with a needle. An allergic response is confirmed if the skin becomes raised, red, and itchy within 20 minutes.
  • RAST blood test—For this test, your doctor will take a blood sample to determine the level of antibody production in your body. This test is used to detect levels of immunoglobulin in response to a specific allergen. Blood tests are only used when skin tests are not available, unsafe, or will not work, such as in cases of certain skin conditions like severe eczema or certain medication use.
  • Nasal smear—A sample of your nasal secretions may be taken and examined to identify the cause of the rhinitis or to rule out other allergic conditions.
  • Nasal endoscopy—To aid in diagnosis, a tiny fiberoptic camera may be used to view more deeply inside your nose.

References

References:

Advice from your allergist: Rhinitis. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology website. Available at: http://www.acaai.org/public/advice/rhin.htm . Accessed September 15, 2008.

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