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Many people have allergies without realizing it.

America is home to more than 50 million allergy-sufferers. Of these millions of people, anyone can testify to just how annoying — and even painful — allergy symptoms can be. Constant sneezing, dealing with a runny nose and never being able to scratch a persistent itchy throat are just a few miserable results of environmental allergies. However, many other allergy symptoms come in more obscure forms that aren’t often seen as being allergy-related, like fatigue, behavioral issues and headaches. Many Americans may be unknowingly suffering from something that’s quite simple to test and treat.

Suffering from allergies leads to lifestyle limitations at varying levels of intensity. Some people may feel fatigued after a long day outdoors because of these allergies, while others may not even be able to step outside for an hour without having a reaction. An article published by the American Broadcasting Company demonstrates the severity of some sufferer’s reactions who have difficulty leaving their homes, saying, “How to beat your allergies and get outside.” No matter how severe, unwanted lifestyle changes can be relieved through diagnosis and treatment.

The relief that comes from alleviating allergies can be life-changing for many patients. After a “positive” allergy testing, doctors can prescribe medication, recommend an over-the-counter medicine or even suggest a more intense treatment like allergy shots, which eliminate life-long allergies for many users. Through allergy testing, patients can even discover a food allergy or be diagnosed as asthmatic, which is commonly tied to allergies. Whatever the case, it’s important to receive a doctor’s exam prior to allergy testing so they can help decipher what should be tested for in relation to the patient’s symptoms and how to help the patient in the best way through treatment.

Even though allergy testing is only a few pricks on the skin or a few vials of blood sent off to a lab, it can be exceptionally expensive without insurance, though it’s covered by most. Insurance-less, the expense of allergy-testing is among its most common critiques, ranging from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars depending on the type of test. If someone thinks they have allergies but can’t afford the expensive testing, trying an over-the-counter medication like Zyrtec or Allegra and seeing if symptoms improve can prove beneficial and relieving.

Many professionals caution against allergy testing in people with no present allergy symptoms. This is because “searching” for some allergies that the patient has no symptoms of can actually lead to false positives and unnecessary lifestyle changes as a result. It’s important for the patient to research their own symptoms in comparison to allergy symptoms andto meet with a doctor before making the decision to be tested.  

Finding relief from allergies is a liberating experience. Becoming less limited in day-to-day life is a major benefit that’s possible through allergy testing and treatment.  

Josie Haneklau is a sophomore political science and psychology double major. Contact Josie at hanekljr@dukes.jmu.edu.