An allergy doctor, also known as an immunologist or allergist, is a highly skilled and trained doctor who treats patients with asthma, allergies, sinus and ear infections, hay fever, and other immunological problems. They look at the whole patient profile, overall health, family history, and symptoms, to make a diagnosis of the health problem and formulate a customized treatment plan.
Let’s talk about what an allergy doctor will do when you visit them and where you can go to get a lasting solution for your allergies, asthma, hay fever, sinus and ear infections, or other health problems.
Step#1 Review Your Medical History
When you visit an allergy doctor, they will take your personal and family medical history, as well as ask about your symptoms. You can expect the following questions from the doctor:
- When did you first notice symptoms and how long did your symptoms last?
- What made your symptoms better or worse?
- Does anyone from your family also have similar symptoms or is diagnosed with asthma, allergy, eczema, and another immunological problem?
Step #2 Identify the Cause of Symptoms
- Allergy testing. This is done to confirm your allergies and determine the trigger/ allergen. Commonly, a skin test or patch test is used for this purpose. A blood test may also be conducted to detect the antibodies your immune system produces in response to an allergen.
- Challenge test. Also known as the bronchoprovocation challenge test, this test involves inhaling cold air or aerosolized chemical or performing physical activity to see if it induces asthma. Similarly, an oral food challenge involves eating a small amount of food in gradually increasing amounts to see if the food triggers an allergic reaction.
- Spirometry. Allergy doctors perform spirometry in their offices to evaluate lung function. Spirometry involves the use of a spirometer – a handheld device that measures the force and amount of air inhaled and exhaled – to help diagnose asthma and other conditions affecting breathing.
- Elimination Diet. Similar to the challenge test, your allergy doctor will exclude certain foods from your diet for three to six weeks and then add them back gradually one by one to see your immune system’s response to them. This test can confirm lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, food sensitivity, or triggers of inflammatory bowel syndrome. An elimination diet can also be used for the treatment of eosinophilic esophagitis.
Step #3 Devise a Treatment Plan
After diagnosing your problem and identifying its triggers, your allergy doctor will devise an individualized treatment plan. The treatment plan may include medications and/or immunotherapy depending on your immunological issue. Commonly, medications for common immunological problems include:
- Antihistamines – to block the body’s release of histamine when exposed to an allergy trigger
- Mast cell stabilizer – to prevent mast cells from releasing histamine
- Steroid nasal spray – to reduce swelling and inflammation of nasal mucosa
- Oral corticosteroids – to alleviate immune system responses and reduce inflammation
- Biologics – monoclonal antibodies that target molecules promoting immunological or allergic conditions
- Epinephrine – for the treatment of life-threatening anaphylactic reactions
Immunotherapy may be used to treat allergies by training your body to become less responsive to a specific trigger. With immunotherapy, your allergy doctor will give you a gradually increasing dose of the allergen, which will desensitize your body to it over time. Your allergist may give you immunotherapy either as a series of injections or sublingual drops.
Allergy Doctor Near Me in Downers Grove, Naperville, Elmhurst, and Plainfield, IL
If you suspect that you, your child, or your loved one have allergies, asthma, eczema, or another immunological problem and are seeking a lasting solution, look no further than the allergy doctors at Oak Brook Allergists. Our highly skilled and experienced allergy doctors can diagnose and treat your immunological problem effectively, so you can enjoy a better and improved quality of life.