Preparing for your appointment

If you have what seems like a constant runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath or other symptoms that may be related to an allergy, you'll probably start by seeing your family doctor or general practitioner. Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to prepare before you go.

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 the medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
  • Ask if you should stop any medications that would affect the results of an allergy skin test. Antihistamines, for example, could suppress your allergy symptoms.

Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. For symptoms that may be related to dust mite 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 other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing for me?
  • What changes can I make at home to reduce my exposure to dust mites?
  • Of the changes you've described, which are the most likely to help?
  • If the first round of drug treatments and environmental changes we've discussed don't help, what will we try next?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home? What websites do you recommend?

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:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Do these symptoms bother you throughout the year?
  • Are symptoms worse at certain times of day?
  • Are the symptoms worse in the bedroom or other rooms of the house?
  • Do you have indoor pets, and do they go in the bedrooms?
  • What kind of self-care techniques have you used, and have they helped?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Is there dampness or water damage in the home or workplace?
  • Do you have an air conditioner in the home?
  • Do you have asthma?

The impact of a pollen allergy may be noticeable because the allergy is seasonal. For example, you may have more difficulty managing your asthma for a short time during the summer. Dust mite allergy, on the other hand, is due to something to which you're constantly exposed to some degree. Therefore, you may not recognize it as a factor complicating your asthma when, in fact, it may be a primary cause.

What you can do in the meantime

If you suspect that you may have a dust mite allergy, take steps to reduce house dust, particularly in your bedroom. Keep your bedroom clean, remove dust-collecting clutter and wash bedding in hot water that is at least 130 F (54.4 C).