Diagnosis of allergy in children and babies
Diagnosis is more difficult in babies and children than in an adult. To facilitate the diagnosis of the doctor, you can immediately take the following steps:
In any case, the child's medical history (known by the technical term anamnesis) should be disclosed, as well as the family history. All too often children tend to develop allergies if allergies are already prevalent in the immediate family.
Very often a connection between the cause and the signs of the disease can be recognized at an early stage. For example, a cough or cold attack is obvious after contact with a pet (e.g. asthma after contact with dogs).
Attention should also be paid to the manner of the discomfort. Is it attack-like, cyclical, seasonal, continuous, or localized. Keeping a complaint calendar may prove helpful.
The doctor then examines the child and can be more specific based on the precautionary steps taken.
Allergy tests are available to diagnose an allergy, although a positive allergy test does not necessarily mean that there is evidence of an allergy.
Different types of diagnosis
Allergies can be detected with the skin test (a distinction is made between prick test and intradermal test) and with immunological tests from a blood sample (RIST or RAST).
In skin tests, the skin reaction to allergens applied to the skin is tested. In the prick test, a drop of the presumed allergen is applied to the skin and then the skin is scratched with a needle. If the skin reacts after 10 minutes, an allergy can be assumed.
Small amounts of the suspected allergen are injected into the skin during the intradermal test. This test makes it possible to test different allergen concentrations.
Provocation tests (intranasal and inhalation) are also available for diagnosis. Here, the reactions of an organ to a specific allergen are specifically examined. The allergen is inhaled, applied to the nasal mucosa or the conjunctiva of the eye. This test should only be carried out as an in-patient in hospital because of its possible severe allergic reactions.
In the so-called patch test (also epicutaneous test), the allergen is applied to the back in an aluminium chamber. The reaction can be read after 48 and 72 hours. If there is hypersensitivity to the allergen, the skin reacts after a period of 5 to 20 minutes.
The blood test tests the patient's blood for antibodies (immunoglobulins). Based on these, an allergic tendency can be determined.