Find out what to expect when you come to hospital for your child's allergy appointment.

Before your appointment

As a parent or guardian, you should attend all appointments with your child if they are under the age of 16.

Any anti-histamine medicines should be stopped for at least five days before attending the clinic to enable us to perform accurate skin tests. We ask that you take photographs of any visible symptoms such as skin rashes and bring the photos to your child's appointment, as this will help us make a diagnosis. 

If food is suspected as a cause, bringing the specific foods will also help us in testing. This should include any food packaging that lists ingredients. You should also bring a sample of any other materials or products you suspect may have caused a reaction (i.e. goggles, toys, cosmetics, jewellery etc.). 

Please bring all medicines and creams that have been prescribed and your child’s ‘red book’.

Check your appointment letter for anything specific you may have been asked to bring. In general it would be helpful if you could bring the following:

  • your full address and telephone number(s)
  • your appointment card and/or appointment letter
  • your GP’s name and address

During your appointment

Children will usually see a number of professionals on the same day and will have allergy skin testing if appropriate or required. Therefore, the total time of the appointment can be two to three hours in some cases.

Please note that we are a teaching hospital, so medical students may be present for some appointments. If you do not wish to have them in the room please let the nurse or doctor know and the students will be asked to step outside.

The appointment will involve a doctor taking a detailed history of symptoms and the likely triggers. Details of similar problems affecting family members and of the home environment will also be requested.

A doctor or nurse will likely perform a test during the appointment. Tests may include: 

  • Allergy skin tests: Normally children will undergo allergy skin tests. If skin tests are not possible or give confusing results a blood allergy test may also be required
  • Food challenges: As part of our allergy service, we perform food challenges in a safe environment with highly trained and experienced staff. A food challenge is the most accurate way to diagnose a food allergy. During the test patients are given the food to which it is suspected they are allergic in gradually increasing amounts to see how they react. Many young children grow out of allergies and we use food challenges to assess if a previously diagnosed allergy can be ruled out in older children to improve their quality of life
  • Lung function tests: Children with asthma will be asked to perform lung function tests, which involve blowing as hard and as long as possible through a tube. We try to make this enjoyable for children by using computer images, such as bursting balloons or playing skittles

Other tests and investigations include:

  • blood tests
  • full immunodeficiency testing
  • exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) measurement test for allergic asthma
  • state-of-the-art polysomnography to monitor breathing patterns during sleep

After your appointment

Following tests, advice will be given on avoidance of allergy-provoking factors. In the case of food allergies this will involve our allergy specialist dietitian. If medications are required an action plan will be provided and we will provide training on how to use devices such as inhalers and adrenaline auto-injectors for severe allergic reactions.

Videos for patients

Share this video with your child to help them learn what to expect during an allergy skin test. 

This video will help your child learn what they can expect during a lung function test.

Patient information leaflets