What is an Allergy Specialist?

An allergy specialist, also typically referred to as an allergist, is a medical doctor whose specialty is the diagnosis, control and treatment of allergies and immunological conditions. She may specialize in certain types of allergies or her practice may provide treatments for a wide range of afflictions. An allergist sometimes works as part of a medical group of physicians or may have a private practice.

The most common types of allergies that plague people are related to the ingestion of certain foods and medications or exposure to external substances such as soap, detergent, fabric softeners and perfumes. Typical immunological disorders treated by an allergy specialist include asthma as well as chronic types of sinus infections, bronchitis and colds.

Since humans can have allergic reactions to almost anything in the environment, an allergist normally conducts extensive tests to determine the cause of the adverse reactions. These tests traditionally include blood analysis and patch tests. She also traditionally interviews the patient to determine if anything he encounters on a regular basis could be the cause of his allergy.

Patch tests to detect allergic sensitivities involve injecting the patient with various substances commonly associated with the symptoms being experienced and matching the habits of the patient. The injections are made barely under the top layer of skin and not into the bloodstream like medications. How the patient reacts to these pinpricks can isolate specific sensitivities.

After determining the root of a patient’s discomfort through analyzing the test results, an allergy specialist normally proceeds to offer treatment guidelines and prescribe medication. She is customarily expected to closely monitor the patient’s initial reaction to her suggestions and the medicine to be sure her diagnosis is correct. Unlike traditional ailments, allergy diagnosis is frequently more complex and often requires changing or adjusting medications and treatments several times to achieve the desired results.

A good allergist is normally required to be an inquisitive and analytical communicator. Her success in correctly diagnosing her patients largely depends on her ability to uncover even the most remote substance or environmental factor that may be causing unsavory symptoms. These inquiries frequently require asking personal questions about sensitive subjects.

It normally takes about 13 years of education and training to become an allergy specialist. This includes four years to complete a bachelor’s degree in a premed concentration and four years of medical school. Three years of residency training and two years in a fellowship program with concentration in immunology and allergies are also required. Additional board certifications are often needed.


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