If you or your doctor think you might have allergies, here are some suggested questions to get the discussion rolling:
- What is my diagnosis and how can I learn more about it?
- Your doctor may be able to suggest trusted sources who research your condition to help you steer clear from misleading information.
- There are many types of allergens such as dust, mold, pollens and food that cause allergic reactions including seasonal allergic rhinitis, allergic rhinitis, eczema, contact dermatitis, and hives.
- What are the effects of my allergy and how will it effect me long term?
- What tests are needed to appropriately diagnose my condition? Are the tests safe?
- Many doctors perform a “scratch test” where allergens are placed on the skin and scratched through to determine if a reaction is present (should not be performed on a person where a severe allergy is suspected).
- Other doctors may perform a blood test.
- What is the suggested course for treatment? It's important to realize that every doctor has different training and different methods for treating conditions. Also, every person is different. What works for a friend may not be the best option for you. Work with your doctor to ensure an accurate diagnosis and treatment that works for you, including the possibility of seeing specialists as needed.
- Are there treatment alternatives? Some doctors perform immunotherapy.
- What can I do on my own to improve my condition?
- Many people find relief from symptoms of rhinitis by using a sinus rinse up to two times a day.
- There may be foods you could avoid, or ways to improve your home environment to help decrease allergy attacks.
- When coming in contact with an allergen, you should wash the affected area immediately.
- Wear gloves or a mask when you know you will be around a known allergen.
- Regarding special concerns (travel, work environment, school, certain foods, exercise, pets, pregnancy, surgery, relative with similar condition experienced serious outcomes, etc.), how will these relate to my condition?
- Regarding medications, how long and how often do I need to take them? How quickly will I notice results after starting medication? Are there any side effects? Will medications I take for allergies affect other tests I may receive for other conditions?
- If my symptoms worsen, what should I do on my own? When should I call your office versus going to the emergency room? Some allergies are so severe that you need to keep specialized medication for dealing with the onset of a life threatening reaction, and/or visit the emergency room.
- Can I ever be cured of my allergies or asthma? What is the risk in not treating my allergies? Finally, if your allergies do include asthma, it is important to put your Asthma Care Plan (ask your doctor) in writing so those around you know how to deal with the onset of an acute allergy attack.
Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.