If you notice the signs and symptoms of allergies, you can manage the effects using over the counter medications or a simple prescription from your general practice physician. But if the symptoms are severe, your GP may refer you to an allergist – a doctor specializing in treating allergic conditions.
When to see an allergist
You should visit an allergist if:
- You have the symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as watery eyes, stuffy or a runny nose, or a cough that lasts longer than 12 weeks and disturbs your work or sleep
- Over-the-counter medications are ineffective in managing the symptoms
- Sinus infections, ear infections, headaches, and stuffy nose are frequent
- You have other health concerns, like diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, etc. that make it risky to use OTC drugs
What will the allergist do?
An allergist will perform various tests to identify the cause of your allergic reactions and recommend ways to avoid the triggers or manage the effects.
You can expect a physical exam, where the allergist will:
- Take or update your personal information – phone number, address, insurance, etc.
- Review your medical history – family medical history; past diagnoses, medications, and surgeries; and any current symptoms
- Physically examine your eyes, nose, ears, mouth, skin, chest, abdomen, genitals, and extremities
- Perform preventive, diagnostic tests as required – may include blood work, skin test, bone density scan, a mammogram, colonoscopy, Pap smear, and other tests
- Provide patient education and counseling based on your risk factors or a proposed treatment plan
Keep in mind that the diagnostic tests performed vary from individual to individual based on the information obtained from the medical history review and/or physical examination, and the age or gender of the patient. In addition, patients may also request specific tests for their peace of mind.
Physical exams usually help with the early detection of many different illnesses and disorders, including:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Malignant tumors
- Thyroid disease
- Heart disease
If there are any allergies, your allergist will confirm the triggers and create a custom treatment plan to control the symptoms.