Allergy Testing in Brisbane — Help for Kids with Suspected Allergies

Parent holding unwell child who is sad

There are a great many services offering allergy testing in Brisbane and nearby, to help identify the allergens for your child and to ensure that they can get appropriate treatment as quickly as possible. Here in Australia, allergies are very common, with 1 in 5 people experiencing allergies in their lifetime. When our children seem to be experiencing allergic reactions, it is often very uncomfortable for them, and extremely difficult to know the exact cause.

IF YOUR CHILD IS HAVING A SERIOUS ALLERGIC REACTION, PLEASE CALL 000.

What is an allergy?

An allergy is a medical condition in which the immune system reacts to a particular substance, usually through touch, inhalation or ingestion. According to The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), the most common causes of allergic reactions in Australia are:

  • dust mites
  • pollen (grass, weed or tree)
  • foods such as peanuts, cow’s milk, soy, seafood and eggs
  • cats and other furry or hairy animals such as dogs, horses, rabbits and guinea pigs
  • insect stings and tick bites
  • moulds
  • medicines

Skin irritation on child's leg

How to tell if your child is having an allergic reaction

If you think your child may be having an allergic reaction, there are several key symptoms to look out for.

Anaphylaxis

This is the most severe allergic reaction and can be life threatening. If you think this may be occurring, please call 000 immediately as it is a medical emergency.

Anaphylaxis is a very sudden serious allergic reaction caused by an allergy to something such as nuts, eggs or insect stings. Early warning signs of anaphylactic shock could in some cases be:

  • Swelling of the face, lips or eyes
  • Hives, welts or redness of the body
  • Vomiting or stomach pain
  • Tingling of the mouth

More advanced anaphylaxis can include any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficult or noisy breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Swelling or tightness in the throat
  • Difficulty talking or a hoarse voice
  • Wheezing or persistent coughing
  • Persistent dizziness or collapse
  • Pale and floppy (in young children)

Stomach

Stomach upsets can be caused by illness or eating unusual foods, or by intolerances such as lactose intolerance from milk products. However, they can also be a symptom of allergies. The most common foods that cause allergic reactions are peanuts, seafood, dairy products and eggs.

Eyes, nose and throat

Having an allergic reaction to something you breathe in can cause watery eyes, a running nose and sore throat.

Skin

Reactions to food and also to touching allergens can cause symptoms such as skin redness, itchiness and inflammation, eczema and hives.

Lungs

An allergy to something in the air can cause swelling in the lungs, which can lead to asthma.

GP, Paediatrician or Doctor doing a medical exam of a girl

The different types of allergy testing

If your child seems to be having allergic reactions to something, it can be extremely important to find all of the causes, so that they can receive the right treatment and avoid potential dangers. The first step is to visit your family GP or paediatrician, as they can give you a referral to see an allergy or immunology specialist.

Skin prick test

In this test, a small prick is made in the skin and so that a small amount of an allergen can enter the body. It is slightly uncomfortable, but children usually cope well with it. If there is a reaction to the allergen, an itchy, red lump will usually occur. Because the reaction usually happens within 20 minutes, almost immediate diagnosis is usually possible.

Blood tests

If a skin prick test is not possible, usually the doctor will perform a blood test to measure the level of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies against specific allergens. A blood test can also show the total level of IgE to indicate whether allergies in general may be present. Sometimes blood will be test for the level of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell), which can be high for issues such as hay fever, asthma and eczema.

Patch test

A patch test can be used to test for skin irritations to different allergens. Small pieces of tape with allergen paste on are usually stuck on the back and left for 48 hours to see if any reaction occurs.

Oral challenge

A medical specialist with appropriate resuscitation equipment may want to do an oral allergen challenge to confirm an allergy to a specific food or medication. This may cause a severe allergic reaction.

Nebulizer, inhaler, breathing equipment

What to look for in an allergy testing service

When diagnosing allergies, it is vital to use professional specialists only. So make sure you check the credentials of those offering testing to ensure they are allergy and / or immunology specialists.

You should also check what tests they offer to make sure they are scientific and evidence based. There are many places offering so-called allergy tests and treatments which are unproven. A big list of unproven allergy testing is given here. Be sure to check that you are not signing up for one of these unorthodox methods.

Another key consideration is whether the service specialises in dealing with kids. Diagnosing children can be challenging, so experienced professionals are the best to choose.

Finally, check the service’s aftercare program. How does the testing service help you understand and manage the results? For example, they may offer advice on how to deal with diagnosis, they may create a treatment plan or a management plan so you have a clear idea of what to do going forward, and they may offer ongoing support. These services can be very important for ensuring the future health of your child.

How to find allergy testing in Brisbane

Your GP or Paediatrician is the best person to refer you for allergy testing in Brisbane that is best suited to your child’s individual case. Diagnoses also need to take into account full medical history, so this is another reason to go through your family doctor.

The ASCIA website also lists of full ASCIA members who are all medical specialists working in private and/or public clinical practices. You can view this list for Queensland specialists at allergy.org.au.

Girl using a tissue because she has a runny nose

How to find more information

The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) is the peak professional body of clinical immunology and allergy in Australia and New Zealand. Its website, allergy.org.au contains a wealth of information on allergies, including anaphylaxis resources, action and treatment plans, specific dietary avoidance information for allergies, and much more. This is an amazing resource and can tell you everything, from what ‘allergy’ is to the National Allergy Strategy. Whether you are just starting out on your allergy journey or you have had allergies for a lifetime, you will find this website useful and informative.

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (AAA) is a charity for allergy support. Their website, allergyfacts.org.au is also another source of excellent, trusted information on everything to do with allergies and anaphylaxis. It is a great place to find information, help and support. There is also a shop where you can buy everything from EpiPens and Medibands to children’s books that can help kids to learn about allergies and living with allergies.

Please remember to seek medical advice if you suspect an allergy in your child, and to call an ambulance in the case of any serious reaction.

About the Author
Johnson
Paula Johnson
For over fifteen years Paula has worked as an editor and writer of educational books and support materials, working in England, Hong Kong and Brisbane. Now with two Brisbane Kids of her own, she enjoys spending time with her children, discovering new places together, making things and getting grubby … and sharing it all with our readers! She loves the fun and creativity of writing for Brisbane Kids and how it allows her to combine her two greatest passions — writing and mummying!

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