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What should I expect when I see an allergist?

Your first visit to the allergist will take approximately two to three hours. You may be asked to stop taking antihistamines or other decongestant drugs prior to your visit. Some drugs may interfere with the results of your tests, and getting the most accurate results from your initial assessment is very important. If you have any questions regarding medication you may be taking, please contact one of our nurses.

The allergist will conduct a patient history including an analysis of your symptoms, a relevant physical exam and a thorough environmental evaluation. The allergist will also conduct a skin test / allergy test to determine your specific allergens. (Common allergens include dust mites, pollens, mold and pet dander.) This skin test is effective to evaluate both inhalant allergens and food allergens.

A skin test is a simple procedure that is best described as tiny scratches made on the surface of the skin on your back. The scratches are conducted with a small instrument similar to a plastic toothpick, which contains trace amounts of a single allergen. If you are allergic to a substance, a small mosquito bite-like bump will appear. For those patients who do not react to this type of skin test, an intradermal process may be performed. The allergist can determine your unique allergy profile and the severity of your allergies based on the results of the skin test. Because everyone has specific allergic triggers, knowing what you are allergic to is important for effective treatment.

Once the allergist identifies the allergens that are causing your symptoms, a treatment plan can be recommended. These treatment plans include avoidance of allergens, medications, and/or allergy shots (immunotherapy ).

What happens if my allergies go untreated?

Allergies can be the underlying cause of frequent sinus, ear and upper and lower respiratory tract infections. Untreated allergies can even exacerbate or cause asthma; The Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology states that "Approximately 80 percent of all asthma in children and half of all asthma in adults is caused by allergies."

Allergies are responsible for symptoms that may make it difficult for you to concentrate, or they may cause sinus headaches both of which can result in a loss of productivity. This loss of productivity can filter into your work, school and home life. Don't let your allergies control you. Take control of your allergies!