. What should I expect when I see the allergist?

A. Your allergist will discuss your medical history and allergy related symptoms. After a pertinent physical exam, allergy skin testing may be performed. A breathing test may also be performed if there is a history of asthma or cough. Please bring a list of all your current medications, previous allergy medications, and a list of any medication or food allergies with you. Please feel free to call if you have any questions.

Q. What are allergens?

A. Substances that trigger allergic reactions are called allergens. Common allergens include
dust mites, pollen, mold, pet dander and foods.

Q. What is involved in a skin test?

A. Skin testing helps to determine whether allergies are present and to identify which allergens are involved in triggering your symptoms and their severity. Testing is safe and relatively painless. Results are available within fifteen minutes, and these will be  reviewed with you during your visit. Skin testing is done on the back initially, and then on the arm for those allergens not reacting on the back. Skin testing can easily be performed in both adults and children of all ages. A special type of skin test is available for children called the Multitest, which allows testing for several allergens at once to minimize testing time for your young child or infant.

Antihistamines need to be stopped prior to skin testing. Please check with our office to see if skin testing is likely to be needed at your visit and how long you will need to be off your antihistamine. Most patients need to discontinue use for about 72 hours, although some medications like Zyrtec (cetirizine) or Atarax (hydroxyzine) may need to be stopped for a longer period of time. Asthma medications and corticosteroid nasal sprays should be continued. However,  antihistamine nasal sprays like Astelin or Astepro (azelastine), or Patanase (olopatadine) should be discontinued for two to three days.

Q. How are allergies treated?

A. Once your allergist identifies the allergens that are causing your symptoms, a treatment plan will be recommended. This will usually include avoidance of allergens, a treatment plan of medications, and possibly allergy injections (immunotherapy) if appropriate. Many people with untreated allergies don’t realize how much better they could feel once their allergies are diagnosed and treated by an allergist.

Q. What about allergy injections?

A. Allergy injections or allergy shots are a form of treatment called immunotherapy. They may offer the best relief for people with persistent allergies that do not respond optimally well to avoidance and medications. They may also be ideal for patients desiring a more permanent solution to their allergy problems. They have been proven effective for seasonal allergies such as pollen and mold, and indoor allergies such as dust mites and cat and dog dander. Injections are also available for stinging insect sensitivity to yellow jackets, honey bees, etc.

Allergy injections can provide lasting relief from allergic nasal and eye symptoms. They can also reduce asthma symptoms and may help prevent asthma in children with hayfever. Ask your allergist if allergy injections would be worthwhile for you or your child.

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