Q. When should I see an allergist?

A: Your family doctor can help you determine when it is appropriate to see a specialist in allergy and immunology. Many common allergic diseases or symptoms can be treated by your general practitioner, such as many cases of rhinitis, hay fever, and asthma. However, a referral to our practice may be appropriate in delicate or unusual circumstances, or if your symptoms are accompanied by infections of the sinus, ear or chest.

Q. What should I take with me to my appointment?

A: When coming to your first appointment, bring the patient’s medical history, family medical history, a list of current or recent medications, any lab results or diagnostic tests taken recently, and any photos or records of symptoms, such as rashes.

Q. What illnesses do allergists treat?

A: We are experienced in many aspects of allergy and immunology, and are fully equipped to deal with a wide variety of problems, including asthma, hay fever, respiratory diseases, skin diseases like hives and eczema, food and drug allergies, and immune system problems. If you wonder if your symptoms or disease should be treated by an allergist, first consult your family doctor.

Q. What kind of examinations can I expect?

A: Depending on the circumstances, you can expect either a full physical exam, or a more narrow exam limited to the problem area (eyes, ears, nose, chest, etc.). A detailed medical history can give us needed insight. For respiratory problems, Holter and peak flow monitoring is often used. Skin tests, nasal smears, RAST tests, radiographs (x-rays) and other techniques may also be employed.

Q. Do all allergy patients need shots?

A: A common and often helpful method of controlling allergic reactions is allergy desensitization via allergy injection therapy. However, this is not guaranteed: many patients may find that allergy avoidance techniques and traditional medication to control symptoms is sufficient.

Q. Are allergies hereditary?

A: Studies show that many kinds of allergies, like environmental allergies, food allergies and insect allergies, have a strong genetic component. A child is 70% likely, for example, to inherit an allergy that is shared by both of his/her biological parents. However, some kinds of allergies, such as contact dermatitis, do not have any heredity causes.

Q. How old must my child be to visit your office?

A: Before the age of 2, most allergic reactions are caused by food and household allergens like pet dander and dust. While skin testing can be performed on a child of any age, it is rarely positive before six months of age, and the results can be difficult to interpret without a medical history.