An outbreak of poison ivy, a week spent sneezing with hay fever, avoiding the laundry detergent that makes you itchy… We’ve all run into allergies from time to time. People usually deal with it by buying some tissues and Benadryl or maybe seeing the doctor for a prescription. But how do you know when it’s time to visit a specialist? And what makes allergists so special anyway? For the sake of staying healthy and being informed, read on!
What’s an allergist?
Allergists are highly trained doctors who specialize in immune system disorders like skin allergies, autoimmune disease, asthma, and inherited immunodeficiency disease. Beyond the regular medical school and internal medicine residency that your GP also completed, allergists must complete an additional two years of specialized study and pass certifying exams held by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. In other words, allergists know their stuff! This additional training gives them the knowledge and experience they need to help treat, prevent, and diagnose your more serious, chronic allergies.
When should you go to an allergist?
It’s important to know when it’s time to get specialized help. Here are a few suggestions for when it’s time to see your allergist:
- Your allergies cause chronic sinus infections or difficulty breathing,
- Over-the-counter allergy medications no longer work,
- You have hay fever or other allergies for more than a few months out of the year,
- You have signs of asthma such as struggling to catch your breath, wheezing or coughing, or tightness in the chest,
- Your asthma or allergies are having a serious negative effect on your overall health, happiness, and quality of life.
What to expect on your initial visit to an allergist
A visit to your allergist can include allergy tests, immunotherapy (aka allergy shots), prescription medication, and prevention education. Your allergist will work with you to find a solution and get you as healthy and happy as possible. “Allergies are chronic and require management. Much like blood pressure and cholesterol…Their goal is to help patients learn about their allergies and look for ways to alleviate symptoms,” says our Dr. Z in his book on allergies. “Learning about your allergies can make life better. While there is no magic bullet to solve allergies, the doctors at AAPRI can help you breathe easier!” Well said, Dr. Z!
So, remember: keep an eye on your allergies, and when it’s time to seek the specialized care of an allergist, contact us so we can help you.