Visiting An Allergist For The First Time
If you have trouble with allergies, the first person you will likely see is your primary care physician. But if your symptoms persist despite their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, you might consider seeing a specialist. If you suspect food allergies, have shortness of breath, persistent coughing, wheezing, or serious infections, you need to visit with an allergist right away.
What Does An Allergist Do?
Allergists are trained to look at large pictures through background details and specialized diagnostics, so they can put together a treatment plan to alleviate allergies. When you visit with an allergist, they will take a complete personal and family medical history and they will want a description of your allergy symptoms, how you treat them, and when they arise. There will be a lot of questions to go over and you should answer them as thoroughly as possible.
After the medical and family history is complete, your allergist will want to perform an allergy test if all signs are pointing to an allergy. This might be done right away or on a follow-up visit. Based on your history and environment as well as your symptoms, the allergist will decide what kind of allergens need to be tested. Results can be misleading if allergens test for a full spectrum of irritants and false positives are common. An accurate allergy diagnosis will combine your test results with your personal history.
Skin Prick Tests
The most common allergy test is called a skin prick test. You will have a small amount of a liquid allergen pricked into your arm or back and if you are sensitive to that item, a raised bump will appear. The test takes only about 30 minutes and can be done in one visit.
Sometimes, you might need a blood test instead, especially if you can’t undergo a skin test because you have sensitive skin or are taking a medication that would affect your skin’s reaction. Blood tests have to be sent to the lab and results can vary based on the lab that runs the tests.
Allergy Treatment Plans
Once you know what you are allergic to, the allergist will come up with a treatment plan for you, which can be a combination of a few different things. They will often recommend that you simply avoid the allergen, which is easier for some allergies than others. If you are allergic to cats, for example, avoiding them can help. However, if you are allergic to pollen, there’s no way to avoid outdoor air completely. Even if you can’t avoid your allergens altogether, the allergist might have ideas for how you can reduce your symptoms and risks. There are also non-medical therapies that can help symptoms like nasal washes, eye drops, air duct cleanings and HEPA filters and so on. The allergist might also recommend preventative allergy medications or things you can take as-needed. You might also consider immunotherapy, which generally comes in the form of allergy shots that can reduce the severity of your symptoms over time.
Meeting Your Allergist
The first appointment you have with your allergist is just the beginning of an important process to find a solution to your allergies. You can find relief from your symptoms with the right diagnosis and treatment. Contact Breathe Clear Institute to get started on the process.