What to expect at your Allergist’s office
Prepare for your appointment
Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This will allow us the time to:
- Receive and review all forms for your visit
- Scan and update your insurance cards
Before the physician sees you
You will first meet with the Nurse who will check your vital signs including blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate. Additionally, a lung function test may be performed. Your medications and other medical information will be reviewed at this time.
Your Allergy Provider will then review your History Form and get a detailed history of your symptoms, including the severity, your response to past treatments, and your symptom’s relation to possible allergy exposure.
The Provider will then perform a physical examination that generally focuses on your ears, nose, throat, eyes, lungs and skin. This examination looks for signs of allergic disease including, nasal allergies, asthma and skin-related allergies such as contact dermatitis, hives or eczema.
After the history and physical examination, your Provider will discuss with you whether further testing is indicated. This may include skin testing or blood tests to clarify what allergens you or your child may be reacting; additional lung function testing and/or radiological exams, i.e. sinus CT scan or chest x-ray. More detailed descriptions of the most commonly ordered tests are found below.
Finally, a comprehensive evaluation of your problems and an individualized, detailed plan of treatment will be discussed with you.
Other tests available
Breathing (Lung Function) Tests
Spirometry or Lung Function Tests are some of the most important tests in determining a management strategy for asthma and other lung illnesses. They measure airway obstruction and response to therapy with bronchodilators. These tests are an important diagnostic tool when diagnosing asthma, assessing its severity, and in determining if medication and/or dosing is optimal for controlling it.
Allergy Skin Tests
Skin testing involves introducing a small amount of allergen just under the skin surface by pricking the skin with a drop of the allergen extract using a sterile, disposable plastic prick test device that looks like a small toothpick. The sensation is generally not uncomfortable even for children. If the patient is allergic to the substance, itching of a mild to moderate degree may be experienced.
These can be placed on the arm or back, depending on the age and size of the patient and the number of tests being done.
The staff then waits approximately 20 minutes to see if reddish, raised welts called wheals, form— possibly indicating an allergy.
These tests are the most accurate/sensitive tests.
Antihistamines may prevent skin tests from reacting. Please see the list of common antihistamines on our website, www.azallergy.com. This is not a complete list of all medications containing antihistamines; if you have any questions, please consult your pharmacist.
The most common side effect of skin testing is slightly swollen, red, itchy bumps. These may be most noticeable during the test; however, redness and itching may develop a few hours after the test and may persist for as long as a couple of days.
Sometimes your Allergist will order a blood test (ImmunoCap® Assay, formerly known as RAST®) to look for allergic antibodies to food or airborne allergens. These can be used to confirm the likelihood of a reaction to allergens and may also be used to follow the progress of food allergy over time.
ImmunoCap® Assay testing is usually done when skin tests cannot be done, such as on patients taking certain medications, those with skin conditions that may interfere with skin testing, or in uncooperative patients. They are often done in conjunction with skin testing when assessing food allergies.
Before you leave your Allergist’s office, you will know the results of the skin prick tests.
A positive skin test means that you may be allergic to a particular substance. Bigger wheals usually indicate a greater degree of sensitivity. A negative skin test means that you probably are not allergic to a particular allergen.
Keep in mind skin tests are not always 100% accurate. You may react differently to the same test performed on different occasions or you may react positively to a substance during a test, but not react to it in everyday life.
Your allergy treatment plan may include medications, immunotherapy, changes to your work and/or home environment or dietary changes. Ask your provider to explain anything about your diagnosis or treatment that you don’t understand. With test results that identify your allergens and a treatment plan to help you take control, you’ll be able to reduce or eliminate allergy symptoms.