What is an allergist?

An allergist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and other allergic diseases. The allergist is specially trained to identify the factors that trigger asthma or allergies.  After earning a medical degree, the allergist completes a three-year residency-training program in either internal medicine or pediatrics. Next the allergist completes two or three more years of study in the field of allergy and immunology. You can be certain that your doctor has met these requirements if he or she is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

The term allergist can be confusing these days. Many people who call themselves allergists may not have a medical degree from a medical school and may not have completed 2-3 years of subspecialty (fellowship) training dedicated to diagnosing and treating allergies and immune deficiencies. Some people take online or weekend courses in how to diagnose and treat allergies.  Unfortunately, this area of medicine is not regulated well.  It is important that patients do their research and choose their allergist/immunologist carefully.

  • Conditions allergists diagnose, manage and treat:
  • Allergic Rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Hives (Urticaria) and Angioedema
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Food Allergies
  • Primary Immune deficiencies

When should I see an allergist?

  • Most people come and see an allergist when they’re having symptoms of multiple or persistent sinus infections, nasal congestion, or difficulty breathing and they’ve tried over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays but their symptoms are still not well controlled.  If your asthma or allergies or interfering with her ability to carry on day-to-day activities, you should see an allergist to get the symptoms under better control.
  • People also seek help from an allergist when they are having hives or other rashes that won’t go away.
  • And finally, allergists/immunologists are also specialists in managing the immune system.  We diagnose and treat primary immunodeficiencies (weak immune systems).  Signs and symptoms of primary immune deficiency include having multiple sinus infections a year, frequent pneumonias and bronchitis, frequent ear infections, and unusual infections such as fungal infections.