If you're experiencing symptoms that may be related to an allergy, start by seeing your family doctor or general practitioner. Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to allergy-like symptoms.
- Write down your family's history of allergy and asthma, including specific types of allergies if you know them.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Ask if you should stop taking any medications, for example, antihistamines that would affect the results of an allergy skin test.
Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. For symptoms that may be related to an allergy, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is the most likely cause of my signs and symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- Will I need any allergy tests?
- Should I see an allergy specialist?
- What is the best treatment?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- What changes can I make at home to reduce my symptoms?
- Do I need to follow any restrictions?
- What symptoms should prompt me to call your office?
- What emergency symptoms should my friends and family be aware of?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
Jan. 29, 2013
- What are your symptoms?
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have you recently had a cold or other respiratory infection?
- Are your symptoms worse at certain times of the day?
- Does anything seem to improve or worsen your symptoms?
- Are your symptoms worse in the bedroom or other rooms of your house?
- Do you have pets, and do they go into bedrooms?
- Is there dampness or water damage in your home or workplace?
- Do you have a family history of allergies or asthma?
- Do you smoke, or are you exposed to secondhand smoke or other pollutants in the air?
- What treatments have you tried so far? Have they helped?
- Do you have any other health problems?
- What medications are you currently taking, including herbal remedies?
- Allergy overview. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. http://aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9. Accessed Oct. 25, 2012.
- Allergies. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies.aspx. Accessed Oct. 25, 2012.
- Allergic reactions: Tips to remember. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/allergic-reactions.aspx. Accessed Oct. 1, 2012.
- Pichler WJ. Drug allergy: Classification and clinical features. www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Oct. 26, 2012.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0986-5..C2009-0-38984-9--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0986-5&about=true&uniqId=236797353-5. Accessed Oct. 25, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Oct. 25, 2012.
- Anaphylaxis: Tips to remember. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/anaphylaxis.aspx. Accessed Oct. 25, 2012.
- Frequently asked questions. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://www.acaai.org/patients/faq/Pages/default.aspx . Accessed Oct. 25, 2012.
- Kim H, et al. Anaphylaxis. Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology. 2011;7(suppl):S6.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed Oct. 26, 2012.
- Food allergies. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=20&cont=286. Accessed Oct. 26, 2012.
- Is rinsing your sinuses safe? U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316375.htm. Accessed Oct. 26, 2012.
- Indoor air quality and allergies. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. http://www.aafa.org/print.cfm?id=9&sub=18&cont=233. Accessed Oct. 26, 2012.
- Allergy. Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 26, 2012.