What to Expect When You’re Going in for an Allergy Test

I visited the allergy doctor on Tuesday. I didn’t know what to expect but considering my wife is in the medical technology field and tests for allergies, we thought that they were either (1) going to draw blood, send it to a lab, and have it tested on a panel, or (2) they were going to do some sort of “scratch test.”

Well, to my dismay the test was actually neither; apparently they only do the scratch test on younger kids. So…they made me lay on my stomach (shirt off) and drew 50 lines on my back. They then came in with little bottles/needles (officially called lancets) that were packed with different substances, of which they poked and injected into my back (apparently it’s just called a “prick” test).

Now, it wasn’t the end of the world as it was much like the devices they use for finger pricks these days, but it still hurt! The shoulder area wasn’t bad, but further down on your back and on the spine, things get a little sensitive. The one thing I concluded at the end was that I will NEVER get a tattoo on my back.

After injecting me 50 times, they then set a timer for 12 minutes, attended to other patients, and then came back to see how I reacted. The first thing the doctor did when he walked back in the room was he laughed! He said, ‘oh my, you’re quite reactive. It looks like you’re highly allergic to all of the grasses and ragweed.”

It was kind of cool, because the way they tell if you’re reactive or not is they inject two controls into you (2 of the 50): a histamine (which makes you swell up) and saline. They then compare the reaction of each substance to the histamine and saline controls. If you’re highly reactive, such as I was, then that part of your back will swell more than the histamine.

They have four ratings to tell how allergic you are:

  • 1+ – mild erythema 3-5mm or more than saline control
  • 2+ – moderate erythema 5-10mm less than histamine control
  • 3+ – if reaction was the same size as histamine control
  • 4+ – if reaction was larger than histamine control

Well, leave it to me to be an overachiever! I got a 4+4++ (EXTREMELY reactive) for the following: June grass, bermuda, orchard, rye, red top, ragweed, and timothy.

The doctor said I was so allergic to these tests that he’s concerned with setting me up on a shot regimen as I might have a very bad reaction to it. So, for this year I have to take a daily nasal spray, a daily Allegra pill, and for flare ups he gave me the steroid, Prednisone. Next year he’ll reassess and may suggest that I take an oral liquid that’s become very popular in Europe but has yet to be approved by the FDA and is not covered by insurance here in the U.S.

Despite it being 48 hours after these tiny injections were put into my body, the Ragweed test is still swollen and itches amazingly bad! Considering I’m having this difficultly with a very small injection, I don’t think there is any way I will let him give me shots next year.

So, that’s my story of the week. I’m hoping what he’s given me will help me for the rest of this year. I’ll be going golfing tomorrow with my dad and will be outside for the entire afternoon. The nasal spray should start kicking in and I’m hoping that the allergies don’t flare up too bad as I have two extremely important seminars coming next week.

Your nerdy, allergic blogger is out. Have a great weekend and read some of these posts. Peace!

About the Author

By , on Sep 28, 2012
Andy Tenton
Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the publisher of WorkSaveLive.com.

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  1. hahahaha your allergy test results sound about the same as mine, I’m curious about the thing from Europe you mentioned, anything more on that so I can do some research? I take allergy meds daily now, so frustrating.

  2. Boy, I’m so lucky I don’t have allergies. We could put you and Mr. CBB in a room with a cat and some ragweed and see who comes out on top. Thanks for the mention.

  3. Be careful with the prednisone. I’ve had to take that because of my Asthma and it can really alter your mood in a negative way.

    I recently discovered I am deathly allergic to fish and have to carry an Epipen. Note: If you ever feel your throat closing up don’t go alone to the bathroom. Thankfully, that time it was a mild reaction.

  4. Allergies suck. But you know that! Sorry to hear about the crazy reaction, but glad to know they’ve narrowed it down and have a treatment plan. Have fun playing golf, hopefully you don’t have a flare up!

    Thanks for mentioning my post about diapers. It’s been my most popular post to date. Which is hilarious.

  5. Andy Hough says:

    That allergy test doesn’t sound fun. My allergies aren’t too bad and usually only last for a couple weeks in Spring. That would have to be a lot worse before I’d be willing to go through that test.

  6. Well it sounds like you had a pretty awful day on Tuesday. I have allergies but they will never be bad enough to get myself to do that. 🙂 Thanks a lot for the mention.

  7. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    I had to have those prick tests done on my bay girl when she was just a year old. Discovered her milk allergy, but it was heartbreaking…the look on her face as they did three different sets on her…the first was a look of confusion, the second of pain and the last was “Mommy, Daddy, WHY are you letting them do this to me?” Awful experience…sorry you had to go through it but the upside might be that you just can’t do yardwork!! :0)

  8. That sucks about the allergies. I think I am unfortunately finally developing some but this is the worst allergy season in many years here because last winter was so warm for us or so I hear.

  9. You are probably going to laugh mate but that is my story as well. I went in yesterday for allergy testing and went through exactly what you described above except on my arms. When the nurse left the room, big man that I am lol.. I was blowing on my arms because I wanted to scratch them off… it’s crazy. It’s not that they hurt it’s that you want to itch. She asked if I wanted it on my back and I said, heck no. I’m allergic to so much that I never knew… similar to yours.. rag weed was a +10 …Any how thanks for the mention and I’m glad you have your allergy all sorted out. Cheers Mr. CBB.

  10. Thanks for the mention Andy. You sound a lot like my wife, she’s had to do the same allergy testing as well and was off the charts on a few things. What sucked for her is that she got pregnant soon after and really was not able to take much of anything at all.

  11. Michelle says:

    Thanks for mentioning my giveaway!

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