General Allergy Information

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What Is an Allergist?

Dealing with allergies is a common enough health condition, but that doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. Sometimes your body’s defenses can get too aggressive and an allergic reaction can become life-threatening. When working together with a trained allergy specialist, you can better manage your asthma or allergies and improve your quality of life. 

What Do Allergists Do?

An allergist is a medical professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and other allergic diseases. Their experience, training, and expertise allow them to determine appropriate tests and effective treatment options for allergic conditions. 

Many people deal with allergies and asthma, but their prevalence doesn’t diminish the serious nature of these illnesses. Because the symptoms can often lead to misdiagnosis and subsequent mistreatment, it’s best for those suffering from allergies or asthma to work with a board-certified allergist. As qualified medical professionals they can perform allergy tests, develop individualized treatment plans, and even eliminate the root cause of an allergic condition. 

Allergists provide targeted care that can help you find relief. They also often act as advocates, working to increase allergy awareness and knowledge among primary and secondary care physicians. Allergists’ familiarity with external disease triggers and their skill in identifying, treating, and managing these diseases makes them a vital part of well-rounded medical care.

Are Allergists Doctors?

Yes, allergists are most certainly doctors. They are physicians that are specially trained to pinpoint allergy and asthma triggers. After a standard four-year medical degree, allergists go on to complete a residency-training program in either internal medicine or pediatrics. They can also focus on a subspecialty of internal medicine, like dermatology, pneumology, or otorhinolaryngology.

Following completion of this training they then take on another 2 or 3 years of study, focused specifically on allergy and immunology. Once all training programs are complete and respective exams are passed, an immunologist is then certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. This certification is public information, and if a doctor holds this certificate, they will be listed on the Board’s website. Our highly-trained allergy doctors Haig TcheurekdjianRobert W. HostofferDevi Jhaveri, and Shan Shan Wu are board-certified in allergy and immunology for both pediatric and adult patients, and have been widely recognized for their medical research, publications in scientific journals, and lectures.

Allergists are specifically qualified to recognize allergic disease manifestations, risk factors, specific organ reactions, overlapping conditions, and have a broad knowledge of the epidemiology and genetics of allergic and auto-immune diseases. They can thus take a comprehensive approach when it comes to diagnosis and treatment.

How Does an Allergist Treat Allergies?

Because of an allergist’s comprehensive training, they can do much more than just identify symptoms. After examining your personal and medical history, conducting a thorough physical exam, and running an allergen skin test, patch test, or blood test, they can pinpoint your specific set of allergies. An allergist can then develop a personalized plan to treat the root cause with an aim of eliminating – or at least greatly reducing – your symptoms. 

There are an array of effective over-the-counter allergy medications, but each one is different and has its set of ideal applications. An allergist can work with you to find the best treatment option for any given condition, along with helping you to identify and avoid specific allergy triggers. If typical oral medications don’t help, an allergist can administer allergy shots, or immunotherapy. Working with an allergy specialist greatly reduces the risk of under-, over- or mis-management of an allergic condition. 

When to See an Allergy Doctor

Many allergy or asthma sufferers have dealt with chronic conditions for many years, and can come to see these as a normal part of their life. But with proper testing and treatment, an allergist can eradicate or reduce symptoms and allow patients to experience a quality of life that they didn’t even know was possible. Allergy symptoms can gradually increase, and a condition can deteriorate so slowly that it’s hard to notice. If any of these conditions sound familiar, it could be time for you to visit an allergist:

  • Chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion, or difficulty breathing
  • Hay fever or other allergy symptoms during several months
  • Over-the-counter or prescription medications either do not control symptoms or cause negative side effects
  • Allergy or asthma symptoms interfere with day-to-day activities
  • Frequent shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or chest tightness

Millions of Americans suffer from allergies or asthma, and for some, common treatments don’t do the job. But this isn’t a situation that has to be accepted. Every allergy patient should be able to breathe freely, enjoy being active, and sleep well. Working with a board-certified allergist is the best option for targeted treatment that can ultimately reduce health care costs, thanks to well-managed symptoms and better patient education.

Do You Need a Referral to See an Allergy Specialist?

Whether a referral is necessary for specialist treatment typically depends on your type of health insurance or specific plan requirements. Getting in touch with your health insurance provider or consulting plan documents is the best way to learn if a referral is necessary to see an allergy specialist. At times a treatment facility may require a referral. Reaching out to all parties involved in your treatment will give you the most comprehensive answer. If you are hoping to begin treatment with Allergy/Immunology Associates, Inc., please get in touch to learn whether a referral is necessary.

Questions to Ask an Allergy Doctor

When you do schedule an appointment and meet with your new allergy doctor, you’ll likely have some questions about your condition, testing, and treatment regimen. Your allergy doctor should be more than willing to field questions about potential triggers, signs to look out for, and risks and benefits of treatment. You could also ask specific questions, such as:

  • How can I learn more about my diagnosis?
  • What is the long-term outlook for my condition?
  • What can I do in my home environment or lifestyle to improve my condition?
  • What can I expect from treatment?

You could also request a written treatment plan to better understand the full scope of your allergy doctor’s diagnosis and how it will affect your daily life. 

For any further questions about allergists and asthma specialists or to inquire about treatment options, feel free to reach out to the staff at Allergy/Immunology Associates, Inc. We’re here to help.

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