Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're experiencing runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath or other symptoms that may be related to an allergy, you'll most likely 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, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
  • Ask if you should stop any medications, for example, antihistamines that would alter 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 pet 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?
  • If I have a pet allergy, can I keep my pet?
  • What changes can I make at home to reduce my symptoms?
  • 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:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Are symptoms worse at certain times of day?
  • Are the symptoms worse in the bedroom or other rooms of the house?
  • Do you have pets, and do they go into bedrooms?
  • What kind of self-care techniques have you used, and have they helped?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

Issues if you have asthma

If you've already been diagnosed with asthma and are having difficulty managing the disease, your doctor may talk to you about the possibility of allergies. Although allergies are a major contributing factor to asthma, the influence of allergy on asthma isn't always obvious.

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.

Pet allergy, on the other hand, may be due to a pet that you're exposed to throughout the year. Even if you don't have a pet, you may be exposed to pet allergens in other people's homes or that have been transported on people's clothes at work or school. Therefore, you may not recognize allergy as a factor possibly 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 pet allergy, take steps to reduce your exposure to your pets. Keep pets out of your bedroom and off upholstered furniture, and wash your hands immediately after touching pets.

May. 22, 2013