Q. What is a BOARD CERTIFIED Allergist?
A. A board certified allergist is a physician who attended an accredited medical school, completed a residency in medicine and then completed an allergy, asthma and immunology specific fellowship or training program. After meeting all of these requirements, she or he was eligible to take a national exam. Once this exam is passed, the allergist is “board certified”. Finally, the doctor must continue his or her medical education through yearly classes and seminars. By choosing a “board certified” allergist you are choosing an expert.
Q. What should I expect during my first visit to your office?
A. During your first visit at our office you should plan to arrive 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment time even if you have already completed your “new patient” forms as there are additional signatures and forms to be reviewed. All patients are responsible to pay any co-pays at the time of service and should bring a copy of their insurance card. During your visit, our friendly staff will obtain vital signs and review your current medications and then you will be seen by a physician. After the physician has reviewed your symptoms and completed an examination he or she will recommend appropriate testing and will review recommendations with you prior to your discharge. A complete new patient evaluation with allergy testing and/or lung function testing may take up to 2-3 hours.
Q. Why should I see a food allergy specialist?
A. Any patient that has concerns for possible food allergies should see a food allergy specialist. Recently blood allergy testing for food allergies have become very popular but have the risk of false results and are best interpreted by an expert in combination with clinical correlations. Additionally, there is benefit to food allergen skin testing in combination with the patient’s history in determining the diagnosis and the prognosis.
Q. Is allergy testing painful?
A. Allergy testing is completed with small plastic devices similar to toothpicks. Each pick is dipped in allergen and then scratches the superficial layer of skin. The process may be uncomfortable but is rarely painful. A positive reaction is often itchy. The process of skin testing usually takes 15-20 minutes. For some patients, a secondary allergy testing may be recommended that does involve a small amount of liquid being injected with a needle under the skin called an intradermal skin test. Intradermal skin testing is not necessary for all patients and depends on the age of the patient and the concerns and symptoms of the patient.
Q. Doesn’t EVERYONE have allergies?
A. Although allergies are common, only about 20% of the population actually have any allergies. That being said, there is evidence that allergic disease dramatically affects a patient’s quality of life.
Q. Why do people choose allergy shots?
A. There are a number of reasons that a patient may choose treatment with allergy shots. For some patients, they do not attain complete relief with the currently available allergy and/or asthma medications and continue to have symptoms. For other patients, the allergy or asthma medications are not tolerated due to side effects or interactions with other medications that they must use. Allergy shots work differently than medications. Allergy shots treat the underlying reason a patient has allergies, specifically their immune system response to allergens (pet dander, pollens, and mold) and allergy shots have the potential for longer lasting symptom relief. Medications treat the symptoms of an allergic response and for most patients must be taken every day. Some patient’s choose allergy shots because they desire a longer lasting result or do not want to take medications every day. Finally, there is good medical evidence or proof that for some patients with allergies, allergy shots can prevent asthma from occurring.