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Allergies are increasing at a rapid pace in the Western world. Medical professionals continue to investigate why this is happening, but as of now, they can’t pinpoint why allergies are becoming more prevalent.
It’s important to be aware of our body and take steps to identify triggers of unnecessary allergic response.
Getting an allergy test is useful for anyone experiencing symptoms such as itchy eyes and nose, rhinitis, post-nasal drip, conjunctivitis, eczema, fatigue and asthma. An allergy test isn’t painful, nor it is an inconvenience, though it might be a little itchy.
If you’re considering getting an allergy test for dust mites or other environmental allergens, I’ll share the process. I went through the scheduling, consultation, and testing process and I’m happy to share my experience.
Step 1: How to Find an Allergist for a Dust Mite Allergy Test
Once I decided to get allergy tested I looked online and searched for a “good” allergist. The problem was that I couldn’t differentiate if an allergist was good or not.
I looked at a few websites and searched for reviews – this was tough as most allergists in my area had little online presence or reviews. What made the process more difficult was that many allergists didn’t provide the most basic allergy information on their website.
I read about dermatologists and family doctors who gave allergy tests. I wondered if a test from a dermatologist would be as thorough as an allergy test from an allergist. Who should I trust?
At the time, I was attending graduate school so I decided on a university allergist who was also conducting research. The office was friendly and insightful, but I realized later they didn’t do a thorough job with my test.
I worked with this allergist for a year and I didn’t get results. The doctor identified allergies and we were addressing them, but I didn’t feel like I was getting better. And why did he only test me for a few things?
The next year I moved to a larger city and once again searched online for an allergist.
I stumbled across one office with a bunch of Yelp reviews – if you’re not familiar with Yelp they offer online reviews from customers about businesses. Yelp reviews are popular within the service industry, especially with restaurants.
One thing I can’t recommend enough is to make sure your allergist is reputable! My first experience wasn’t helpful and I’m glad I didn’t give up.
Based on my experience, I believe the allergist you choose plays a big role in the improvement you receive. Because the countless positive reviews, I found an allergist that was amazing!
Related: Dust Mite Allergy and Skin Rash
Step 2: Make an Appointment or Get Referred From a Family Doctor
Depending on your insurance you 1) could schedule an appointment with your preferred allergist or 2) need to be referred by your primary care doctor.
Asking for a referral might mean you have to side-step your family doctor or dermatologist’s allergy test.
When I was young, I remember visiting my family doctor and I received steroid cream. My symptoms didn’t improve.
When I returned to him he referred me to a dermatologist (because eczema is a skin disease). The dermatologist also prescribed me steroid cream.
Make sure you communicate to your family doctor what you want. Your doctor’s opinion holds high regard, but if you want to be allergy tested by a specific allergist then make sure you’re clear.
Aside from my frustrating experiences early in life, I finally found a reputable allergist in the San Francisco area, made an appointment, and traveled 2 hours to visit the office.
It’s one of the best decisions I ever made.
Step 3: Have a Consultation With the Allergist and Decide What Allergens to Test For
Your first appointment with your allergist will be a consultation. You’ll likely fill out a survey to gauge your symptoms and have a discussion with both a nurse and doctor.
In my first visit, the nurse evaluated me and asked a number of questions ranging from my family history of allergies, my home environment (carpeting, smoking, pets etc.), medications, and symptoms.
The nurse took notes and the doctor reviewed them before entering the room and discussing my situation further.
If you’re lucky, the decision to be allergy tested may occur then and there, however, sometimes the patient is asked to return to be tested at a later date. The doctor will ask about your goals for improvement and provide information on the allergy test.
Related: Best Carpet Shampooers for Allergies
Step 4: Your Allergist Should Test for a Range of Potential Allergens
Some doctors will choose to test for environmental allergens, some for food allergies, and sometimes they will test for both. It all depends on your symptoms.
An important thing to know is that people who have an allergic response often test positive for a number of allergies. If you only test positive for 1 you are both unique and lucky because 1 or 2 allergies are easier to treat.
If possible ask your allergist to test for a spectrum of allergies. I was tested for 100 things including pollens (tree, grass, and weed), dust mites and animals, molds, and yeasts.
I reacted to most of the items. My prior test was only for 20 things and this is why I never felt relief.
Related: Best Nasal Rinse for Allergies
Step 4: How the Test Works
Before your test, you’ll be given strict guidelines to follow regarding medication. Anti-histamines and other medications that affect your immune response will be stopped a few days in advance to ensure your skin reacts appropriately to the test.
Don’t worry, the test isn’t painful and it won’t break your skin. My niece asked me the other day about being allergy tested and she was scared it might hurt.
This is what I told her:
- The aeroallergen (pollens, dust, mold, animals) test is painless
- A liquid substance is put on the end of plastic tips attached to a plastic block
- The plastic tips are organized in a grid and numbered according to the liquid substance on them
- The nurse and doctor use the grid to keep track of where each substance is on your skin
- The plastic tips are pressed against your skin firmly for a few seconds (still no pain) and then they’re removed
- 2 of the substances will be the control – histamine and water – to make sure skin is reacting appropriately.
- After they press the plastic against your skin they will wait. It’s possible your skin reacts with a welt or redness
- After 10-15 minutes the doctor and nurse will read the results based on the size of reaction (still no pain but some itchiness). A larger welt the more allergic you are to the substance. In some cases, there will be no reaction at all.
- Once the results are read, the nurse will rub some cortisone cream on your reactions and in a few hours, any irritation will subside.
Is An Allergy Test Painful
Similar to what I shared with my niece, an environmental allergy test is not painful. There might be slight itching on your skin, but that’s a sign the test is getting results.
Many people are afraid to be tested because they fear pain. There’s no excuse to be allergy tested because there is no pain!
What Happens if My Skin Reacts
Depending on how you look at it, a skin reaction could be a good thing. It was for me! I finally knew the cause of my allergy was and why my eczema was always irritated.
Sure it’s not fun to have allergies, but it’s always good to know what is bothering you. The better you understand your allergens, the better you can minimize your exposure.
Step 5: Decide on Your Treatment Options
The results for environmental allergies take place 10-15 minutes after the test. Once you know what you’re allergic to, your doctor will walk you through the options.
If your reactions are mild, anti-histamines might solve the problem.
Simple steps to clean your home environment could yield big health improvements. Improving bed hygiene, regular cleaning, and an air purifier could help you feel better immediately (learn more about the steps I took at home here).
If your reactions are numerous, it’s wise to take a long-term approach to improve your health. One option is allergy shots or allergy drops. I started with allergy drops but switched to allergy shots.
I’ve been on allergy shots for a number of years and feel much better. You can read more about my experience with allergy drops and shots here.
Benefits of Allergy Shots
- Natural – uses actual allergens not synthetic chemicals
- Re-trains your immune system
- Higher cost upfront but lower long term cost with medicine
- Almost all patients see some reduction in symptoms ranging from energy, rashes, hayfever, itchy eyes and nose, rhinitis
Step 6: Healing Takes Time and Effort
Ever since I was tested and diagnosed with dust mite allergy, I’ve played the long game to help reduce my exposure and improve my immune system. I take anti-histamines for the short term and I take natural anti-inflammatory supplements like quercetin to reduce inflammation.
I also keep my house dust-free by cleaning regularly and using HEPA filters. My allergy shots have required a tremendous amount of dedication and planning so I don’t miss my shots.
They slowly build my immunity to allergens over time.
But my improvements haven’t come overnight. It’s taken time and I’m still hopeful I’ll realize further improvement. At times it’s frustrating when I have setbacks or experience allergy symptoms that I thought would be gone forever.
What is the Cost of a Dust Mite Allergy Test
The cost of being allergy tested isn’t cheap. It could cost a few thousand dollars or a few hundred.
If you have good insurance it shouldn’t be much of an investment. If you’re a child on your parent’s insurance, take advantage of the situation and take care of your testing while you are young.
My allergies were so problematic that I went to get allergy tested even when I had horrible insurance. I paid a lot of money out-of-pocket but I don’t regret it at all.
There are no financial limits to good health and while I’m a frugal guy, I have no problem paying money if it helps me feel better.
Over time the costs of anti-histamines, nasal sprays, and creams add up and will likely cost as much or more than a visit to an allergist to be tested. If there’s a solution, then investing the money up front might save you money in the long run.
Dust Mite Test Kit for Your House
If you stumbled across this article in search of a dust mite test for your house, it’s possible to test for dust mites in your bed and carpet. However, as someone who knows a lot about dust mites, I can confidently tell you “Yes, you have dust mites”.
There is no reason to test for them and buying a test kit is a waste of money.
Dust mites co-evolved alongside humans to eat our waste (dead human skin). They can’t be seen or felt on our skin, and for the most part, they don’t bother us at all.
For the minority of us who are allergic to them, it’s important to implement strategies to keep our house clean. The first thing I did was to cover my bed and pillows with dust mite proof encasings.
Getting an allergy test isn’t a complex process. The most important step in the allergy testing process is finding a reputable allergist who will give you a thorough test.
My initial experiences with allergy and testing weren’t good, but eventually, I found an allergist that really aimed to improve my quality of life. Once you’ve found an allergist that suits your needs, give them a call and schedule an appointment.
Allergists are often booked months in advance so call them as soon as possible. Share your insurance with them to get a better idea of the cost.
Once you’re ready for your consultation and testing, know that it won’t be a painful process. You can look forward to knowing what you’re allergic to and then begin taking steps to adjust your lifestyle.
In the few years that I’ve been working with my allergist, I feel much better and I’ve made a number of improvements keep my house clean. I have fresh air inside because I use high-quality filters, I removed my carpets, and I take better care of my skin.
There’s no reason you can’t feel better too. If you’re experiencing allergy symptoms like rashes, rhinitis, post-nasal drip, itchy eyes, asthma, or fatigue, then think about getting an allergy test. Improving your quality of life might be easier than you thought.
Thanks for reading another Dust Mite Solutions article. Please check our other articles for more information about battling allergy and finding solutions.