Where to Find an Allergist
If you or your doctor have decided you would benefit from seeing an allergist, you have to know where to find one and how to choose among them. Your regular doctor can provide you with referrals to allergy specialists in your area. Your health insurance company or health maintenance organization (HMO) may have an approved list of allergy specialists. You can also ask friends and family for names of specialists they recommend.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology maintains a list of allergists in your area. Check their website to find one. Also, the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology sponsors a physician referral service that can be found at www.aaaai.org.
Finding an allergist is only the first step. The next is deciding whether this is someone with whom you can work.
What to Look for When Choosing an Allergist
Here are some questions you should ask before selecting your allergist:
- What is your training in allergy and immunology?
- How long have you been treating nasal allergies?
- Are you board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology?
- What role do you feel avoidance plays in controlling nasal allergies?
- What role do you feel the patient has in controlling nasal allergies?
- How do you feel about immunotherapy?
The doctor's answers to these questions should give you a sense of the kind of doctor he or she is. They should also help you decide whether or not you are comfortable with the doctor's background and approach to treatment.
How to Assess Your Allergist
After your initial visit with the allergist, ask yourself these questions:
- Did the allergist take a thorough personal and family medical history?
- Did he or she conduct a physical exam? Did it include an examination of my nose, eyes, mouth, throat, and lungs?
- Did the allergist take the time to thoroughly explain my condition and treatment options?
- Did the allergist use terms I understood?
- Was the allergist willing to give me all the information I need to make informed choices?
- Do I feel comfortable with this doctor? Is this someone I feel I can work with over time?
If you answer no to any of these questions, you may want to consider starting a new search for an allergist.