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Health Information

Diagnosis of Allergic Rhinitis

Your doctor or allergist will begin by taking a detailed medical history. This will include questions about your lifestyle, eating habits, family and medical history, and medication use. A physical exam will be done. The inside of your nose will be checked for signs of inflammation.

Testing for allergic rhinitis may include:

  • Skin test—Skin testing is one of the easiest, most sensitive, and least expensive ways to determine what allergen might be causing allergic rhinitis. A tiny allergen particle is placed under the skin with a needle. An allergic response is confirmed if the skin becomes raised, red, and itchy within 20 minutes.
  • RAST blood test—A blood sample will be taken to determine the level of antibody production in your body. This test is used to detect levels of immunoglobulin in response to a specific allergen. Blood tests are only used when skin tests are not available, unsafe, or will not work, such as in cases of certain skin conditions like severe eczema or certain medication use.
  • Nasal smear—A sample of your nasal secretions may be taken and examined to identify the cause of the rhinitis.
  • Nasal endoscopy—A tiny fiberoptic camera may be used to view more deeply inside your nose. This is usually done to see if the sinuses are involved in your condition.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Igor Puzanov, MD ; Michael Woods, MD
  • Review Date: 08/2014 -
  • Update Date: 09/23/2014 -
  • Allergic rhinitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 24, 2014. Accessed September 23, 2014.

  • Allergic rhinitis information. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology website. Available at: http://www.acaai.org/allergist/allergies/Types/rhinitis/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed September 24, 2014.