Allergy and Asthma Specialists
If you have allergies, asthma, or both, symptoms may vary from annoying to serious. In the most severe instances, either condition can lead to a life-threatening situation. The good news is there are several treatments that are effective in managing both conditions.
In order to get an accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment plan, it’s helpful to see an allergy and asthma specialist. We'll go over everything you need to know about allergy and asthma specialists here.
What Is an Allergy and Asthma Specialist and What do They do?
An allergy and asthma specialist is a doctor that focuses on diagnosing and treating diseases related to all types of allergies and asthma. They work with people of all ages. Some pulmonologists further specialize and work with children.
The background of an allergy and asthma specialist may vary. In most cases, the physician is either an allergist or a pulmonologist. An allergist is a doctor that received additional training in allergy and immunology. A pulmonologist is a doctor that is a lung specialist. A pulmonologist receives additional education and training to treat people with various respiratory conditions such as COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma.
How to Find an Allergy and Asthma Specialist
Your primary care doctor is a great place to start to find an allergy and asthma specialist. Another option is to ask family and friends for recommendations. Keep in mind: if you have health insurance, you may have to select certain specialists within your network.
When deciding which allergy and asthma specialist to choose, you might want to consider several factors to make sure you find a good fit. Think about what is important to you. For example, you might want to consider years of experience, hospital affiliations, and languages spoken.
Once you have a list of possible doctors, it’s time to do some research. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to determine a doctor’s background by just looking online. You can check board certification status at the American Board of Medical Specialties website. You can also determine if the doctor has a social media presence and check that out. Sites that rate doctors, such as HealthGrades, may also provide a little insight.
How Can Allergy and Asthma Specialists Help?
Your primary care doctor can diagnose and treat a large variety of illnesses. But your regular doctor is likely a general practitioner. Although your doctor may understand many types of diseases, he or she does not specialize in lung diseases, such as asthma or allergies. That’s when an allergy and asthma specialist can come in.
An allergy and asthma specialist can help you in several ways. There are different types of asthma and various types of allergies. Symptoms and treatment plans may differ depending on the subtype. Your specialist will perform various diagnostic tests to make an accurate diagnosis. They can also help you determine allergens and symptom triggers.
The specialist will also develop a treatment plan that might include reducing triggers and prescribing medications, along with other treatments. Education is also a big part of managing allergies and asthma. Learning as much as possible about your condition helps you develop effective ways to manage the disease. Your allergy and asthma doctor is a great source of information.
Your specialist may also provide referrals such as asthma education classes, smoking cessation programs, or pulmonary rehabilitation.
What to Expect from an Allergy and Asthma Specialist Appointment
When you schedule your appointment with your allergy and asthma doctor, your primary care doctor will likely send your medical records. You will also need to fill out forms for the allergy and asthma specialist that you are seeing.
At your first appointment, your specialist may perform a physical exam, which will likely include listening to your lungs and heart. Your doctor may also have questions about your medical history and the symptoms you are experiencing.
Your allergy and asthma specialist will also order different diagnostics tests depending on what your primary symptoms involve. A few of the tests that might be ordered include:
Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)
A PFT involves a series of breathing tests that measure how well your lungs function. It can help diagnose asthma.
Various blood tests may be performed including an arterial blood gas, which measures the carbon dioxide and oxygen level in your blood. It helps determine the efficiency of the gas exchange within your lungs.
How to exercise with asthma focuses on taking the right medication (and other steps) to prevent an asthma attack during exercise.
Allergy tests involve injecting tiny amounts of different allergens into your skin to determine what substances you are allergic to.
How to Work Effectively with Your Allergy and Asthma Specialist
People who have a good relationship with their doctor often have better health outcomes. Developing an effective working relationship with your doctor is essential. Consider the following suggestions:
Consider It a Partnership
Keep in mind: you are part of the treatment team. After all, it is your life, and you should have a say in your treatment. Learning about your condition and treatment options helps empower you to take an active role in your treatment.
It’s vital to tell your doctor the truth. Being untruthful about your health habits or compliance with treatment will not help you. Be honest about symptoms and your side effects to medications. Your doctor needs to have an accurate picture of what is going on.
Write Down Your Concerns or Questions
It might seem like doctors have less and less time these days to talk with patients. But your allergy and asthma specialist should spend some time talking with you. To maximize the time, it’s helpful to write down questions and concerns you have. It’s easy to forget what you want to ask. Writing things that you want to cover down before your appointment helps you stay on track.
Don’t be Afraid to be an Advocate for Yourself
Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you have questions that have not been answered or your doctor is not returning messages in a reasonable amount of time, speak up. Doctors are human too, and sometimes things fall through the cracks, or your doctor may forget something. Be realistic with your expectations. But it’s okay to be assertive.
Learn How to Use an Online Patient Portal
Many medical practices have patient portals where you can make appointments, message your doctor, and get test results. Make sure you learn how to access the website to get information easily and quickly.