If you’re headed to the allergist for the first time – you have a lot of company. Approximately 50 million Americans have allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. The foundation reports that allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.(1)
Prior to the first visit, a patient should find out if they will be tested and inquire if they should avoid certain medications beforehand. Some medications, such as antihistamines, can interfere with testing.(2) Since the allergist will ask detailed questions about symptoms, keeping a diary for the weeks leading up to the appointment may be helpful. An allergist quoted in U.S. News suggests being prepared for questions like these:(3)
- When did you first notice symptoms, how long did they last, what made them better or worse?
- Do you have a history of runny, sneezy, itchy, or congested nose or eyes?
- What time of year?
- Have you had episodes of wheezing or difficulty breathing?
- What did you do to treat it, and did it help?
- Do you have skin rashes or itchy skin?
- Does anyone in your close family have allergy, asthma, eczema, or colds that linger for months instead of days?
Photos of any skin involvement can also be helpful. As with other doctor’s appointments, it is advisable to bring a list of any medications being taken. If a reaction resulted in a trip to an urgent care or hospital, that information should be brought to the appointment as well. A label from a food that seemed to trigger a reaction can also be helpful.(2)
Also be prepared with your own set of questions, such as what allergens you may be tested for, what is the best course of action to deal with the allergy, and whether the allergy could improve or worsen with time.(2)
(1) Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Allergy Facts and Figures, https://www.aafa.org/
(2) Nath I., Allergic Living, How to Prepare for Your First Visit to the Allergist, https://www.allergicliving.com/
(3) Parikh, P. M.D., U.S. News Health, What to Expect From Your First Allergist Appointment, https://health.usnews.com/