all aboard the sneeze wagon

I’ve had horrible allergies for pretty much my entire life. In high school, I ended up taking Allegra, and it definitely made me more comfortable since we had a beloved cat (Britney Spears) that I would snuggle with endlessly. My dad has also always had horrible allergies, and I remember his weekly allergy shots when I was in elementary school.

bouquets of flowers

Liv has officially inherited my allergies, and we’re in the process of trying to get it all figured out.

I’ve mentioned this one the blog before, but she has had frequent colds (and recently had pneumonia) this past year. Whenever doctors check her throat, they note the inflammation, even though it isn’t strep. We started with the natural remedies (local honey, lemon, saline drops, probiotics) and her pediatrician recommended the kids’ version of Allegra. I was hoping it would help her to feel better -I usually do local honey and my detox drink with apple cider vinegar, but when I’m dying, I’ll pop a Claritin and it will set me free- but it didn’t seem to make a huge difference. Now we’re on Zyrtec, which also hadn’t helped significantly.

Livi at the park

I’m hoping that when we move from San Diego, it will help our sniffles and constant sneezing, because it’s been constant for the past two years. I don’t remember my allergies being horrendous in Georgia, so fingers crossed. 

At our most recent appointment, the pediatrician suggested that it could be a mix of environmental and food allergies, and suggested testing just to make sure. 

Since you always give me the best advice and ideas, I thought I’d ask my parents with kiddos who have allergies how they were tested? Did they do a blood test or a skin prick? Anything you learned during the process that you wish you would have asked for or known? Thank you so much in advance for any advice or tips. 


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  1. Laura W on December 7, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Not a parent, but I am a pediatrician. I’ve done allergy skin testing on kids as young as 18 months, so Liv is definitely old enough. Just avoid antihistamines for the week beforehand, as it interferes with results. I prefer skin prick testing for environmental allergies and kids handle it well. Blood tests are harder to interpret if the person has high IgE (immunoglobulins associated with allergies) to begin with. As far as food allergies, I typically don’t get kids tested unless they’re having symptoms. Sometimes a positive test means they’re “sensitized,” but not allergic – if a kid comes back “positive” to peanuts, but has eaten peanut butter all along without a care in the world, the eating test is the best test.

  2. Allison on December 7, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Dairy is a large cause of inflammation, and several people in my family who had frequent sinus infections cut out dairy and have been much healthier ever since. Not sure if Livi drinks a lot of milk, but it might be worth cutting out for a few weeks and see if it makes a difference. I’m currently reading “Disease Proof your Child” by Joel Furhman (just started so can’t give too much info!) but it claims to help prevent colds, allergies, asthma, etc. Might be worth checking out!

  3. Cassie on December 7, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    I haven’t gone through this with the little, but I had skin pick test done when I was 16. Supposedly I reacted to everything… including the water control prick… should have been a huge red flag but my allergist didn’t think a thing of it. 15 years later, I can confidently say I have a dairy allergy, not environmental allergies. Good luck!

  4. Becky @ The Bex Factor on December 7, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    I had the skin prick test on my son when he was one or two years old and it was no big deal. My understanding is the food sensitivity testing is a blood test that is incredibly thorough. I did not have that one done for my son as it’s quite costly and we determined his constant colds were a product of enlarged adenoids which he had surgery on. End result: his constant colds have diminished!!

    Good luck with all the testing. I know how stressful it is determining the source of the constant colds. I spent two years going through all sorts of things with my son, food elimination, chiropractic care, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, you name it, we tried it (aside from that food blood test).

  5. Kassie on December 7, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    My kiddos have had both. Our first test was a skin test as they’re said to be more accurate. Our skin testing was brought on by an anaphylactic reaction to peanut butter. We later on had our other two kiddos tested and they too were allergic. All 3 kiddos are allergic to all nuts, peanuts and my youngest is egg as well. I recommend having the skin test done first. As I’ve read blood tests can show a false posotive or show their sensitized, but not necessarily allergic. I would go to a specialized allergist for this testing as they tend to know more. Good luck!!

  6. Carly on December 7, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    My 6 yo daughter has allergies and asthma. We didn’t know about the asthma until she had to be hospitalized right after her 4 th birthday (not fun at all.) At that point they did both blood and skin prick tests. The blood tests didn’t really seem to provide much info but the skin prick determined that she was extremely allergic to dogs ( we don’t even have one) and can pinpoint the grasses, pollens, etc that cause trouble. Even with that knowledge it has taken time to gather the data points that can tell us what really works and when the worst allergy times are for us in the midwest. Just this year we were able to confidently say she has the most trouble with late fall. We have had her on Zyrtec consistently since she was two. It seems to help to keep her on it to deal with the skin allergies (eczema) that can flare up at any time. It is nice when you can finally know what will work to ease the symptoms. Oh, and my daugher HATED the skin prick but she is quite dramatic 😉

  7. Julia on December 7, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I had the skin prick testing done as a little kid. My allergies were limited to dust mites and animal dander. Sleeping on pillows and mattresses in plastic sleeves did the trick. I still required the nebulizer near daily and my official diagnosis was allergy reduced asthma. It was such a pain for my parents I bet, as my mom would drive two hours away to find homeopathic stuff like spongia tosta to avoid using my inhaler constantly…. I’m so grateful though, because I fully outgrew my allergies around 20. I occasionally need a claritin when pollen is real bad, just like anyone else. But no more asthmatic issues! I’m so thankful they did that for me. And braces. REALLY thankful for braces too.

  8. Kristen on December 7, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    My son has had terrible allergies since he was a tiny baby. Zyrtec or Claritin alone were not cutting it so he got prescribed Singulair. He takes it year round and we add in Zyrtec or Claritin during high seasons like Spring and Fall. It has definitely made a huge difference.
    He got tested by an allergist a couple of months ago and hardly anything showed up, which we were warned would probably happen. The allergist said this is totally normal for his age (almost 5). He said he would bet $100 that if he got retested in a year or two that he would definitely show positives with more exposures. He said at such a young age he can only put a tiny drop of the allergens on his skin (he just put a drop of each allergen on my son’s back and made him lay for about 15 min to see if there was a reaction. There was no blood test or skin pricking). So for now, we’re just sticking with the Singulair because it’s actually helping and giving him some relief and he’ll be retested next year.

    • Natasha on December 8, 2016 at 6:41 am

      All three of mine moved on to Singulair and Xyzal along with a prescription nasal spray after things like Zyrtec and Claritin did nothing. Huge improvement! Also, getting them to an immunologist was key. This is not a job for a pediatrician. Now that everything is figured out, we can follow up with the pediatrician for maintenance though.

  9. Kristen on December 7, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    I’m only speaking from personal experience as a kid who grew into my allergies as I got older. Listen to your kid as far as what they do/don’t want to eat because of their throat “itching”, etc. I know this sounds obvious but my mom honestly thought I just didn’t want to eat fresh veggies/fruits because I wouldn’t eat a raw carrot or apple but would dig into beef stew and apple pie. Turns out I have Oral Allergy Syndrome – a very severe form – and it just got worse as I got older. I didn’t find out about it until I had an allergic reaction to kiwi in 11th grade. That’s my only advice – pay close attention and listen to what she says!- and I hope you’re able to figure it out for Liv! Good luck!

    • Kim on December 9, 2016 at 7:59 am

      Yes, I have this too, but mine isn’t as bad as yours. Celery and bananas make my mouth itch and tingle and I get heartburn from these foods too. Sulfates, a preservative found mostly in dried fruit, make me cough. I also have seasonal allergies and have allergies to cats and dogs.

      I take Zyrtec for my allergies. I’m not sure I’d do this for a child, but my doctor told me to take 3-4 Zyrtec a day on bad allergy days and it does seem to help.

  10. Andrea on December 7, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    My husband is an Allergist/Immumologist here in Tucson actually. Both my girls have allergies and he spent a year at Vanderbilt studying with a pedestrian. Lots of experience in this area. You can definitely have Liv skin tested. As the pediatrician said my husband doesn’t recommend the food testing. Many times you can get a false positive. He has had patients who were told they were “allergic” to a food later on to find out they really weren’t. Honey can soothe the throats but it is an old wives tale that it actually is a cure for allergies. The pollen that is in honey is from flowers. You aren’t allergic to the flowers that bees frequent. He recommends a lot of natural remedies but unfortunately sometimes you have to use Rx or OTC meds. Nose sprays have been the best relief for my girls, along with preventatives. Check out X-Clear., it’s a saline nasal spray. You buy it at Sprouts and it is a great way to keep the pollen out of your sinuses. Let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂

  11. Marissa on December 7, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    I had the skin test done for environmental allergies. I tested allergic to 48/50 things on the test. That’s A LOT to be allergic to. I did 2-3 years of allergy shots & I am “cured.” I have no more troubles with my allergies. Totally worth the time & money to me!

  12. Stepfanie @ The Flexible Kitchen on December 7, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    I take nettles, quercetin and Turmeric Supreme Allergy. I’ve been using nettles seasonally off and on for about a decade and love them! They’re also super nutritious.
    Aviva Romm has a good article on natural allergy support:

    • Fitnessista on December 7, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      i’m so glad you mentioned nettles! i haven’t had nettles since i was pregnant with liv, and you’re right, it helped a ton. i’ll pick some up tomorrow! thank you for the link, too- tons of great info there

  13. Allison on December 7, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    My son had terrible asthma. We did the skin prick test (on his back) and it turned out that he was allergic to cats and (some) dogs. As soon as we found new homes for our cats, the ear infections/colds/asthma totally cleared up. He started getting allergy shots when he was 12. It has made a huge difference.

  14. Stephanie on December 7, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Ultrasonic humidifier is your best friend. Better than all of the medicines, shots, surgeries and probiotics.

  15. Sabrina on December 8, 2016 at 2:47 am

    Hey Gina, my baby boy (16 month) has had terrible problems with his skin. He has been breastfed and still is, so we tried cutting of all dairy. No effects. At eight month he has had a tiny piece of egg yolk and then later a tiny piece of omelette. Both times he threw up and second time he got a very bad allergic reaction ending up in hospital. He also suffers from coughing a lot because I learned kids with skin problems often have problems with the lungs. Anyways, the only way to test for us was a blood test. Because once when he touched a towel I cleaned a baking mess with, he directly got red blotches everywhere I touched him and he directly reacted to the egg. So, ever since he is eight month old, I can have dairy again but leaving out eggs completely (TOUGH CALL FOR ME!). Baking is no problem, but scrambled eggs :-(((( He is a lot better now but we still have to be extremely careful. He is mainly allergic to the egg whites but no experiments. He can´t have eggs whatsoever. Honestly, a blood test where he was tested many common allergic things (also NUTS which he never had because the test results indicated he is allergic too). I believe the prick test does help, too to identify allergies, I had it as a kid. But for us the big blood test was the best solution. 🙂 All the best for you and your girls!

  16. Shayna on December 8, 2016 at 7:31 am

    I grew up with really bad asthma and seasonal/pet allergies. I grew out of it for the most part except when I’m in a house with cats or get a really bad cold. My daughter had the skin prick test by a pediatric allergist at age 6 and it was no big deal. She has seasonal allergies so we give her prescription spray and eye drops, beginning before the season starts and during. It makes a big difference – works much better than OTC anti-histamines. Because she knows it works and helps her, she is willing to take them.

  17. Mag on December 8, 2016 at 11:08 am

    I used to think I was allergic to pets– going to my aunt’s house was a complete nightmare because of her two cats. It was only as an adult that I realized I wasn’t allergic to the cat exactly, I was allergic to byproducts of poor cat care– often time the allergies are so bad because people don’t properly clean their homes, feed their pet quality food, or brush them.

  18. Annie V on December 8, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    We haven’t gone through this with my little one yet (she’s only 14 months). However, I was diagnosed with asthma at 5. My asthma is mostly allergen and seasonal, not exercise related. Right after I was diagnosed I had the skin test for allergies. I have a vague recollection of it hurting for about two seconds (just like a small shot). I started allergy shots then and took a nasal spray. I’m allergic to dust, trees, pollen and pet dander. I stopped getting the shots but still take a daily anti-histamine. I do know it really helped pin point what were my triggers. Good luck! I hope Livi feels better.

  19. Carrie on December 8, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Allergy tests are hard to interpret and sometimes require both skin pricks and blood work to understand what is going on. That being said, it is hard to narrow down an allergy just using the test and not coupling it with a noticeable response in Liv. My other food for though is that doing the test when she is already “inflamed” (i.e. with a background of seasonal allergy symptoms) can skew the test results. My husband has had several round of skin allergy test done and the results from the tests done when he was suffering from seasonal allergies indicated that he was allergic to nearly everything…. these results differed drastically when he was not suffering from seasonal allergy symptoms. It makes the results that much harder to interpret! Living in CA and AZ where things bloom year round can be hard on allergies… hope you both feel better!

  20. Charlene on December 11, 2016 at 9:09 am

    i haven’t had time to review the comments but our son had allergies to pollen etc (not food) and we went through desensitization therapy and it worked wonders – all gone! the concept was simple, introduce low amounts of the allergen in the offseason such that an immunity can build up and voila, when pollen season came – no reactions. we have friends who have used it with success for food and animal allergies. best part, no long term treatment, no drugs…all good. a paediatric allergist will be able to help you out. if you don’t find anything, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with ours.

  21. Leann Hayes on December 12, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    My friend starting using Tea Tree body wash, and she has not stopped sneezing! Maybe consider what products you are using?

    • Fitnessista on December 12, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      i was trying to think of things that could have aggravated it, but we use non-scented everything. seventh generation and honest company are the only body care and laundry items we use for the kids

  22. Amy on December 14, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    When I was young (like Liv), I had colds and sore throats ALL the time and it only went away when I moved away to Boston for college. 4 years later, I moved back to New York and the sore throats came back and I am constantly sniffly and my throat feels inflamed and uncomfortable. Still not sure what it is but it may get better if you move to Georgia!

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