Seasonal allergies are often called hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis. It is an allergic reaction that causes sneezing, an itchy nose, congestion, and a sore throat. Seasonal allergy can make you feel unpleasant, but you can find relief with lifestyle changes, allergy medications, and immunotherapy. According to CDC, hay fever affects close to 18 million Americans. Seasonal allergy can be seasonal, perennial (year-long), or occupational. When you experience allergic rhinitis only during certain times of the year, you have seasonal allergies. You are probably allergic to outdoor triggers like pollen. And when you experience it year-round, you are probably allergic to indoor triggers. The symptoms of seasonal allergy can be annoying. And when you suspect you have a seasonal allergy, talk to your doctor.
This article covers all the significant topics related to the seasonal allergy test such as the test cost, symptoms, risk factors, complications, treatment, and how to get tested for a seasonal allergy test.
- Seasonal allergy
- Causes of seasonal allergy
- Seasonal allergy symptoms
- Risk factors
- Seasonal allergy test
- Treatment for seasonal allergy
- Provider locations
For our readers who are interested in knowing the seasonal allergy test cost beforehand, we begin with that section.
How much does the seasonal allergy test cost?
Seasonal allergy test costs $49 in the US. Prior appointment isn’t required. You can order tests online by comparing the price or visiting the nearest lab during lab business hours. You will get the results in your email in 2 to 3 business days after completing the procedure. Apart from this, doctor consultation is available for any kind of further treatment or medical advice.
The table below shows the seasonal allergy test provider and their prices. You can know more and book the test by clicking on the “Book Now” button. All the labs are certified and offer a network across the US.
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Seasonal allergy test cost with insurance
Many insurance companies in the U.S. cover all the vital tests like a seasonal allergy test. However, the coverage provided by private health insurance companies and national health insurance programs like Medicare varies widely. Most of the health insurance policies cover seasonal allergy test costs only once or twice a year and when your physician orders more than twice in a year, you should pay the test cost out of pocket. So, you are recommended to check if your health insurance policy covers the seasonal allergy test cost.
Our seasonal allergy testing providers do not accept any kind of health insurance policy. However, they can provide you with an itemized receipt containing all the details viz the name of the test, code of the test, and CPT code which is necessary for insurance reimbursement purposes.
An allergy that occurs in a particular season is commonly known as hay fever or seasonal allergy. It is an allergic reaction to tiny particles in the air called allergens. Many indoor & outdoor allergens cause hay fever. The most common allergens are pollens from wind-pollinated plants like trees, grasses, and weeds. And pollens from insect-pollinated plants are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. When a person breathes in allergens through their nose or mouth, the body reacts by releasing a natural chemical called histamine.
It’s possible to have hay fever any time of the year. Seasonal allergies can happen in the spring, summer, and early fall when trees & weeds bloom and pollen counts are higher. However, seasonal allergies are less common during the winter. Different plants drop their pollen at different times of the year. Based on your allergy triggers and the place you live; you may experience hay fever in more than one season. Whereas, perennial allergies can occur year-round or any time during the year in response to indoor substances, like dust mites, mold, and pet dander.
Causes of seasonal allergy
When you have hay fever, your immune system identifies an airborne substance that’s usually harmless as dangerous. Then your immune system produces antibodies to this substance. And next time you come in contact with the substance, the antibodies signal the immune system to release histamines and other chemicals into your bloodstream. And causes a reaction that leads to the symptoms of hay fever. However, the causes of hay fever differ from one season to another.
- Spring – For most people with seasonal allergies, spring is considered to be the worst allergy season. Usually, trees are responsible for most springtime seasonal allergies. Birch is one of the most common offenders. And other allergenic trees may include cedar, alder, horse chestnut, willow, and poplar.
- Summer – The offender of summertime seasonal allergies are grasses like ryegrass and timothy grass, and certain weeds. Allergy symptoms tend to be worse, as pollen counts can be much higher in these months.
- Fall – Ragweed is the biggest allergy trigger in the fall season. And about 75% of people who are allergic to spring plants are also allergic to ragweed. Their pollen is a common allergen and the symptoms of ragweed allergy can be severe. Other plants like nettles, mugworts, sorrels, fat hens, and plantains will also drop their pollen in the fall.
- Winter – When you are prone to seasonal allergies, you may react to indoor allergens like mold, pet dander, dust mites, or cockroaches.
Seasonal allergy symptoms
The symptoms of seasonal allergy or hay fever may range from mild to severe. And the most common may include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy sinuses or ear canals
- Ear congestion
- Nasal congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Watery, itchy, or red eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
- Itchy nose or throat
- Swollen or blue-colored skin under the eyes
- Sinus pressure and pain
- Itchy skin
Other less common symptoms may include headache, shortness of breath, and wheezing. People with hay fever may also have asthma. Your seasonal allergens may trigger an asthma attack when you have both hay fever and asthma.
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing hay fever, it may include:
- Having asthma or other allergies
- Family history (parent or sibling) of asthma or allergies
- Having atopic dermatitis or eczema
- People born during the high pollen season
- Living or working in a place that constantly exposes you to allergens
- Exposure to cigarette smoke during the early life
- Seasonal allergy or hay fever can worsen symptoms of asthma-like coughing and wheezing.
- Prolonged sinus congestion may increase your susceptibility to sinusitis. It is a swelling or inflammation of the tissue lining the sinuses.
- In the case of children, a seasonal allergy is a factor in middle ear infection or otitis media.
Apart from this, seasonal allergies can interfere with your daily activities and cause you to be less productive. And it can also keep you awake or make it hard to stay asleep, eventually leading to fatigue and a general feeling of being unwell.
Seasonal allergy test
Generally, seasonal allergies are easier to diagnose than other allergies. When you have allergic symptoms that only occur at certain times of the year, it may indicate that you have seasonal allergic rhinitis. Doctors will examine you, ask about your symptoms, evaluate you for other conditions, and may also check your ears, nose, and throat to make a diagnosis. Your doctor may recommend one or both of the following tests:
- Skin prick test – Your doctor will place a small sample of different allergens on your skin (forearm or back) and scratches or pricks the skin with a needle. And when you are allergic to the allergen, the area will become red, itchy, and irritated in 15 to 30 minutes. You will develop a raised bump (hive) at the site of that allergen.
- Allergy blood test – This test is also called the radioallergosorbent test (RAST). It measures the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in the bloodstream, known as immunoglobulin E or IgE antibodies.
Treatment for seasonal allergy
The best treatment for hay fever and year-round allergic rhinitis is to avoid the allergens that trigger symptoms. Several medications can improve symptoms and help you live with hay fever. It is essential to talk to your doctor before taking any medication, especially if you’re pregnant or have other health concerns.
- Antihistamines – Antihistamine medications can help with itching, sneezing, and a runny nose but they have less effect on congestion. These medications work by blocking a symptom-causing chemical released by the immune system during an allergic reaction. Antihistamines come as pills, liquids, nasal sprays, inhalers, and eye drops. They include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and levocetirizine (Xyzal).
- Decongestants – These medications can relieve congestion in the sinuses and nose. And you can take decongestants by mouth or use a nasal spray. They include Afrin nasal spray, phenylephrine nasal spray (Neo-Synephrine), and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed). However, oral decongestants can cause several side effects.
- Cromolyn sodium – It is available as an over-the-counter nasal spray. And it’s also available in eye-drop form with a prescription. It helps relieve symptoms by preventing the release of histamine. This medication is effective when you start using it before you have symptoms and doesn’t have serious side effects.
- Leukotriene inhibitors – When you have an allergic reaction, your body releases leukotriene, histamines, and other chemicals that cause inflammation and hay fever symptoms. These pills block leukotriene and the most common inhibitor is montelukast (Singulair). However, few people may experience changes in mood, involuntary muscle movements, and skin rash when taking leukotriene inhibitors.
- Immunotherapy – When medications don’t relieve your symptoms or cause too many side effects, your doctor may recommend allergy shots (immunotherapy or desensitization therapy). Doctors give you a series of injections or allergy shots with a small amount of the allergen. And every time you get a shot, your doctor will increase the amount of the allergen. Gradually, the immune system develops immunity to the allergen and stops launching a reaction to it. The aim is to get your body used to the allergens that cause your symptoms and decrease your need for medications.
There’s no way to prevent hay fever. When you have hay fever, the best thing you can do is to lessen your exposure to the allergens that cause symptoms. However, lifestyle changes can help you live with allergies. You can ease your symptoms by reducing or avoiding your exposure to triggers, it may include:
- Try to stay indoors as much as possible during peak pollen counts and windy days
- Close windows and use your air conditioner
- Avoid touching the face and rubbing the eyes/nose
- Keep pets off couches and beds
- Use filters in your air conditioner and vacuum cleaner to reduce the number of allergens in the air
- Wash your hands after petting animals or interacting with them in an airy space
- Wear a hat and sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes
- Make sure to change your clothes as soon as you come indoors
- Wear a mask when you work outdoors
- Try to use dust mite-proof covers for pillows and mattresses
- Wash your sheets and blankets in hot water frequently
- Keep the humidity levels down in the home with dehumidifiers and air conditioning
- Replace carpets with hardwood or linoleum flooring
A seasonal allergy test can be done at any of our partner’s 4500+ labs located across the US. To know the seasonal allergy test cost, refer to the first section of the article.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a seasonal allergy test?
A seasonal allergy test is a diagnostic tool used to determine if an individual is allergic to specific seasonal allergens, such as pollen or mold. This test can be performed by a doctor or allergist and typically involves a skin prick test or a blood test.
What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?
Symptoms of seasonal allergies can include sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, and a scratchy throat. These symptoms occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to allergens in the air.
How accurate are seasonal allergy tests?
Seasonal allergy tests are generally considered to be accurate, but false positive and false negative results can occur. A positive test result indicates that an individual is likely allergic to a specific allergen, but a negative result does not necessarily mean that an individual is not allergic.
How are seasonal allergy test results used?
Seasonal allergy test results are used to help diagnose and treat seasonal allergies. Based on the test results, a doctor or allergist may recommend a treatment plan, such as over-the-counter or prescription medications, immunotherapy, or lifestyle changes to help manage symptoms.
Can children also have seasonal allergy testing?
Yes, children can also have seasonal allergy testing. Children who have symptoms of seasonal allergies, such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes, should be evaluated by a doctor or allergist. The testing process is typically the same for children as it is for adults.
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