When you’ve decided you want a better treatment plan for managing
your allergy symptoms, it’s time to see an allergy specialist. Before
setting up your appointment, prepare a list of things to discuss with your
doctor. The guide below can get you started.
to See a Doctor
People often deal with their allergy symptoms for years without
seeking treatment. Many symptoms are manageable with antihistamines and
decongestants, especially for those who only experience symptoms seasonally.
However, for some, symptoms either become severe enough or last long enough
that they disrupt the ability to live a normal life. In those cases, you should
consider seeking treatment.
You should especially seek medical attention if over-the-counter
medications fail to provide relief or if you find you have to take these
medicines for longer than a couple of weeks. These medications are meant for
short-term use because, over time, they begin to lose their effectiveness.
If you or your child begin to show asthma symptoms, it is
important to seek the guidance of a doctor immediately. Asthma symptoms include
excessive coughing that may include wheezing, difficulty catching your breath,
and tightness in your chest. Asthma can be life-threatening if not treated, and
allergies can exacerbate these problems.
a Symptom Diary
Part of diagnosing your allergies is determining the time of year,
allergy triggers, and situations in which you experience symptoms. If, for
instance, your allergies are more pronounced in springtime, after four hours of
working on your yard, this is important information for your doctor to know. It
might be helpful to track your symptoms on a calendar or in a journal for a
while. If your allergies are food-related, keep a food diary, noting symptoms
in relation to what you eat.
In some cases, general practitioners can treat and diagnose
allergies. However, if your case is moderate to severe or your doctor doesn’t
feel they can treat your case, you may be referred to an allergy specialist.
When you make your appointment, ask if there are any special
instructions for preparing for your appointment. Your doctor may have specific
paperwork requests and, if testing may occur during your first appointment, you
may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for a certain period of time
before your arrival.
Your doctor will likely compile a complete family medical
history, so it’s important to have as much information as possible about your
family history of allergies, especially if your allergies are food-related.
You will be asked a series of questions about your own medical
history as well, including any childhood allergies you might have had. Bring
along any medical records you have or, if your doctor is referring you to a
specialist, ask for those records to be transferred prior to your visit. This
will help your allergist get a good idea of any lifelong problems that might
have led to the problems you’re having today. The doctor may ask you what kinds
of medications you have tried for your allergy symptoms in the past, and if any
of these have been successful in managing your symptoms. It might be helpful to
bring any creams, sprays, ointments, or medications you have tried in the past
for the doctor to review during your visit.
Arrive at your appointment prepared to ask questions of your own.
It might help to compile a list of questions you have for your physician in the
days prior to your appointment.
Some sample questions include:
- Is there anything I can change in my environment
or lifestyle to prevent these symptoms?
- What can I expect from treatment?
- Are there any side effects to the medication you
- What tests are available to determine what is
causing my allergic reaction?
As part of your initial assessment, your doctor might examine
your nose, throat, skin, and lungs. If you are diagnosed with food allergies or
airborne allergies, the next step is to run tests, if needed.
During your initial visit, you and your specialist may decide to
conduct testing for allergies. If this is the case, your skin will likely be
tested for reaction to various substances. Based on the results, your doctor
will recommend treatment, which may include:
- allergy shots
- avoiding certain allergy triggers
- prescription medications
- lifestyle changes to reduce symptoms, especially
if your allergies are related to food or environmental factors
If you have questions following your appointment, don’t hesitate
to contact your doctor. They may recommend a follow-up appointment, especially
if medication is prescribed.