How Do Doctors Diagnose An Allergy To Insect Stings?

Question: How do doctors diagnose an allergy to insect stings?

Answer: Doctors diagnose insect sting allergy in most of the same ways that doctors diagnose any allergy.

The most important thing actually to the doctor is a very careful and detailed history. So the doctor will spend time asking you about all the detail of exactly how the sting occurred and where you were and exactly what happened and when. For example, the most dangerous reactions are the fastest reactions. So the doctor is going to what to know how soon did you feel that something was happening.

Usually if nothing is really developing within 30 minutes after the sting, there's not going to be a dangerous allergic reaction. On the other hand, the large swellings can actually not even start to develop until 12 or more hours after a sting. So the details of the history are some of the most important details in the diagnosis and eventual treatment of insect sting allergy.

But to make sure of the diagnosis and to be sure which insects you're allergic to, the doctor will arrange appropriate allergy test. There are blood tests for allergies. There are skin tests for allergies.

The skin tests are definitely more accurate and are definitely the preferred method of testing to detect the allergy in your system. But having a positive skin test or blood test is not itself proof of a danger of an allergic reaction because you can actually have the allergy in your system and not react to a sting. So it's really this combination of the detailed history so we know what the reaction was and a test to connect that with the allergy to know this is really an allergic reaction to a sting.

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