How to have a successful allergy testing appointment

Nathalie and Callum have attended more allergy testing appointments than they have had hot breakfasts! Nathalie gives her tips on how best to get through them successfully.


Let’s be honest, having allergies is hard work, and can take up a lot more time than people realise.

I’d even go so far as to say that the allergy world is a busy one! It’s packed full of medication, food diaries, symptom checking and regular contact with health care professionals. And then there’s the food shopping and label reading. When you’re new to it, the shopping can take a lot longer as you learn to get used to the new things to look out for and to be aware of.

Every 6-12 months, depending on the severity of the allergies there’s a particular appointment: an allergy testing appointment, comprising of SPT (skin prick test) and RAST (radioallergosorbent test) testing to determine whether there has been any improvement in the level of severity.

I know a lot of people dread these allergy testing appointments. You’ve spent all this time fighting to even get an appointment, but then when they actually come round you have to battle with the demons in your head. You know that the truth will be recognised, and your concerns about allergies are likely to be confirmed.
That feeling is something I remember all too well.

The 1st allergy testing appointment

You spend months diligently writing a food diary, making note of every single reaction and symptom. Being cautious of anything that is consumed for fear of causing another reaction and ultimately discomfort in your little one.
The date for the first allergy testing appointment is marked in your diary, and looms ever closer.

There’s this fear of attending, but also a flutter of hope that finally you will have answers, and will be able to move forward with solutions. But it’s a fine line between the flutter and the fear.

In the lead up to Callum’s first appointment I couldn’t sleep. We knew that there was something seriously wrong, but without proof, and without a medical professional confirming it, it wasn’t ‘real’.

I’m not going to dress it up, that first appointment was hard.


Prep-ing for the appointment

For the allergy testing to work, you are required to stop the use of antihistamines, so that the results aren’t compromised in any way. I have to stop Callum’s a week before, and to prep him for having his repeat allergy testing in hospital.

To make it as easy as possible for Callum, we always prepare him for what is coming. He’s a brave soldier, and always takes everything in his stride, but as he gets older, he becomes much more aware of what is going on, remembers how things feel, and any associated discomfort.

In Callum’s case, his take place around the same time each year, at the beginning of September.

Most allergy parents and sufferers will agree that allergy testing is a necessary evil for us to have to get through. It has to be done, there’s no doubt about it. We need to know whether things are changing for the better, or for the worse, so that we can alter Callum’s diet accordingly.

Each year we have a smidgen of hope that things will have improved in some areas, so that we can start to reintroduce things to his diet. Realistically it’s highly unlikely that this will happen as his allergies are on the severe side of things. But hey, positive thinking and all that.

To get the most out of these appointments, do your homework!

Ultimately, to make a success of these appointments, you need to work as a team with the consultant. They should know your little one’s history inside out, know what’s worked previously, be fully aware of other issues and concerns, and pre-empt any possible questions you have.

The appointments in our region, usually run in the following way:

  • initial consultation with the Consultant, and a time to discuss history, suspected allergies and describe symptoms
  • Blood tests
  • SPTs
  • Confirm the results of SPTS
  • Second consultation with the Consultant to discuss next steps
  • Dietician – if any foods are to be eliminated immediately from diet

Callum knows the medical team really well now, they’ve been caring for him since he was 16 months, and they know how he reacts to stuff. He feels safe with them, and I am confident in their care.

He now knows what comes during the testing process, and he quite likes the bit where they write the numbers correlating to the allergens being tested on his arm. In his words ‘it tickles mummy’.


They start by dropping a bit of the histamine control solution, and then the skin needs to be scored, to pierce it, so that the skin is broken. This is then repeated for each subsequent allergen being tested. Once all the tests have been administered, you are sent out to the waiting room to wait the 15 minutes to allow the tests to work.

It’s a fairly quick process to go through, and will give a better understanding of the situation. For a definitive result, it’s always good to cross reference with the results of a RAST test, done during the blood test process.

It can be a long day, so I’ve got a few top tips that may help you!

  • Do your homework – write a detailed food and symptoms diary
  • Photograph any evidence of symptoms, particularly rashes and swelling, and if possible video as well as it will help to build a picture
  • Write down any questions you have ahead of the appointment – the time goes so quickly so you want to make sure you get the most out of your time there
  • Take safe snacks to distract during the testing process or for immediately after – but be mindful of other allergies and ensure the food is not going to contain any potential allergens for others
  • Take comforters
  • Plan to do something nice afterwards as a way of rewarding bravery

Callum knows that each time we go to the hospital, he will get a magazine for a simple consultant appointment.
If he has to have bloods taken or is having SPTs done, then he knows that we will stop at the shops on the way home for him to choose a new toy for being such a brave soldier.
It really helps to cheer him up, and turns the day into a positive!
I’d love to hear your top tips, and what you do to make things easier for your little one!

April 2017

Ed. In some allergy clinics the experience is greatly improved for the children by offering them an Allergy Passport.

More articles on the management of allergy in children and in schools

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