Preparing to Visit the Allergist

If a family doctor or pediatrician has referred you or your child to an allergist, you (or your child) are an important step closer to finding out the cause of your symptoms, and through avoidance, medication or immunotherapy, getting relief. To make the most of that first visit, it’s important to come prepared, experts say. The allergist will want to know your basic health history and also information about your symptoms. It might be helpful to keep a diary related to your symptoms.  For someone who has reactions after some meals, for example, entries may include:

  • How long it took before symptoms appeared
  • Whether food came into contact with the skin
  • How the reaction was treated
  • Other factors such as whether the patient had been exercising, drinking alcohol, or took medication prior to the reaction (1)

Family history is also important, since many people with allergies have a parent, or both parents, or a sibling, who also has allergies.(2) Patients might consider using smartphone technology to provide the allergist an image of any reaction. “Photos of any skin involvement may be helpful, as many allergic rashes or swelling will resolve by the time of the visit.”(1) The allergist will likely ask what over-the-counter medications have been tried, so far.(3)

While the patient will be asked many questions at the first visit, they should be prepared with questions of their own. For example, patients may want to ask: “Is there anything I can change in my environment or lifestyle to prevent these symptoms; What can I expect from treatment; What tests are available to determine what is causing my allergic reaction?”(3)

(1) Nath, I. Allergic Living, How to Prepare For Your First Visit to the Allergist, https://www.allergicliving.com/

(2) Berger, W. M.D., Allergy and Asthma Network, Ask the Allergist, https://allergyasthmanetwork.org/

(3) Faris, S., medically reviewed by University of Illinois, Healthline, Allergist Visit Guide, https://www.healthline.com/