Allergy Testing and Diagnosis
If you think you might have an allergy because of symptoms such as hay fever, asthma, headaches, or skin rashes, you would benefit from seeing an allergist.
An allergist is a doctor with special training in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies. When you see an allergist , the first step in your allergy evaluation will be to gather as much information as possible about your medical condition. Next, a physical exam will be performed and when allergies are suspected, specific tests can be done to find out exactly what kind of allergies you have.
Allergy testing used to involve lots of sticks with pins and needles but newer testing devices are virtually painless. Testing can be done rapidly and efficiently and for many patients the results of the testing can be obtained on that first visit. Using the information from the allergy testing, you and your doctor can immediately start working on a treatment plan to help bring your allergy symptoms under control.
Most treatment plans include techniques for avoiding exposure to the allergy causing substances and learning to use medication to prevent symptoms from occurring in the first place or to give quick relief of symptoms when they do occur. In some patients a program of immunization through allergy vaccinations can also be very helpful.
Most patients who suffer from allergies can be helped to feel dramatically better in a very short time.
It is important that the patients on some form immunotherapy be retested periodically, depending on how they are doing symptom-wise. This information allows us to modify their treatment if necessary, and make appropriate changes to their regimen, Retesting frequently shows that patients on immunotherapy have become significantly less allergic. Sometimes, we need to finetune their immunotherapy vaccine to give them even better results.
Pediatric Consideration: Some food allergies can be life-threatening and although avoidance is still the primary treatment for food allergies, it is important to periodically reevaluate children’s foods allergies, especially if they start a new school, day care program, etc.