My Journey Through Allergy Testing


It wasn’t until the summer after my senior year of high school that I started feeling the effects of allergies. I worked in a city parks department, where a majority of my time was spent mowing the grass, which is no fun with allergies. As someone who’d never dealt with allergies before, I was unfamiliar with the symptoms I was experiencing and regrettably, made no attempt to fight it. Reflecting on it now, 40 hours a week for three months of my life were spent rubbing my eyes and wiping my nose, sitting on a mower in the scorching heat. You can imagine how much I enjoyed that summer.

This was also around the time I found out that I have an allergic reaction to cats and dogs. Remember watching the “Katchoo” episode of The Brady Bunch? In this episode, Jan can’t stop sneezing and has to stay home from school because of their dog, Tiger. Of course, they first thought she was allergic to her dad, Mike, as she could not stop sneezing when he was in the room. It wasn’t until her dad leaves that Jan realizes the dog must be the reason for her symptoms. Happily, it turns out to be a new flea powder, not the dog, that’s causing all the allergy problems.

As this episode illustrates, tracing the source of an allergy can be tricky – especially when pets are involved. Even with the pet out of the room, their dander and hairs will still remain in the air, and also scattered on furniture and other items throughout the room. Even if a house doesn’t have a pet, a person who was near a pet can spread the dander on their clothing.

Despite enduring the most dreadful summer of my life, it never occurred to me that I could buy some medicine to help. Not until last year did my allergies symptoms worsen to the point that medicine became a daily necessity. The allergy medicine did seem to help, but even the strongest dosages did not provide tolerable relief. I still felt the same symptoms, just less severe.

It wasn’t until three and a half years later that I finally sought help from an allergy professional. I initially thought I was being overly-conscious and it would end up being a waste of my time, but as it turns out, the journey through allergy testing was well worth it.

The doctors conducted six separate scratch tests on my back, each with eight different substances they thought might bring about a reaction. It was a quick, straightforward process, in which allergens were brought into contact through small pricks in my skin.

I immediately felt an uncomfortable tingling sensation all over my back. It took 30 minutes, and one of the doctors stayed with me to gently massage the irritated areas. My reaction was described as one of the most significant they’d seen. Here’s a photo:


I’m currently in the treatment process, so I expect to start injection treatment, or shots, soon. Injection treatment is a long-term desensitization approach that takes about three to five years, and works by exposing the body to just enough of the allergen to stimulate your immune system. Each visit, the doctor will increase the dose and over time, I will build up a tolerance to the allergen.

So while my journey through allergy testing isn’t over yet, and won’t be for up to five years, at least I can feel confident that by the time the journey is over, my allergy problems will be a thing of the past.

For more information on allergies and their treatment, visit the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website at

Author: Blake

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