An allergist refers to a doctor that specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment as well as management of asthma and other disorders that are related to the immune system. To be an allergist, one must go through years of academic and professional training. That is, four years in college, four years in medical school, three years of residency training in pediatrics or internal medicine as well as a two to three year fellowship in pediatric and adult allergy and immunology. They must conclude with passing a difficult exam before they are certified by the board. Although many people exhibit allergic reactions to different substances, not many of them seek proper medical attention because they do not know what an allergist does.
Allergists also devote themselves to understanding the various triggers that cause allergic diseases and how to identify and manage them. Additionally, they educate their patients in modifying their environment for optimal management of their allergies.
Who should see an Allergist?
Allergists offer expert medical counsel relating to the evaluation, treatment and management of patients with immune problems and allergic diseases. Some of the conditions and diseases that may warrant evaluation, treatment and management by an allergist include the following:
- Allergic rhinitis for seasonal and year-round allergies
- Atopic dermatitis-commonly referred to as eczema
- Allergic eye diseases
- Food and Spice Allergies
- Latex Allergies
- Stinging Insect Allergies
- Urticaria (hives and skin rashes)
- Chronic sinus infections
- Chronic cough
- Immune problems
- Frequent colds/bronchitis
In some instances, otolaryngologists, dermatologists, rheumatologists and pulmonologists may refer their patients to allergists.
The Role of an Allergist in the Management and Treatment of Allergic Diseases
Allergists are specially trained to deal with prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of problems of the immune system. Allergists play an important role in minimizing the number emergency room visits as well as reduce the absenteeism from school and work as they assist their patients in the management of their disease. They are trained to review the patient’s medical history, their family history, and symptoms as well as their work and home environments. Based on all of these factors, they can develop an appropriate management plan that combines environmental control measures and medication or even allergen immunotherapy to eradicate the patient’s allergies.
When to See an Allergist
Many people are not sure about when they need to visit an allergist. In fact, it is common to find patients with allergic reactions who are taking over the counter medications. It is advisable to consult an allergist at the earliest opportunity. In most cases, they will conduct skin prick testing, to identify the cause of the allergy. If needed, intradermal testing, skin patch testing and/or lung function testing can also be done in the office. Proper diagnosis can lead to an allergy free life because you will receive proper treatment. Some of the signs to look out for that may necessitate a visit to the allergist include:
- Recurrent skin rashes
- Severe or moderate eczema
- Asthma that has symptoms that affect work, sleep or school
- Severe or moderate food allergy
- Serious reaction to mosquito bites, ant bites or bee stings
- Recurring allergic rhinitis symptoms
In conclusion, while many people may not know what is an allergist, it is important to seek medical help for allergies early enough to prevent severe cases.