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Got Allergies or Asthma? What to do?

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One in five Americans suffer from allergies. Diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma is a specialized area of medicine that is usually treated by a physician that is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. These physicians are referred to as “allergists”. Reviews of the current state of asthma care demonstrate the superior outcomes of allergist-provided care. These outcomes have resulted in:

  • 76% fewer ER visits
  • 77% fewer hospitalizations and reduced lengths of hospital stays
  • 45% fewer sick care office visits
  • 77% fewer missed days from work or school

Increased patient satisfaction and improved quality of life.
When a board certified allergist manages your allergies and asthma, studies show that the quality of care is significantly improved. Furthermore, the cost of care to both patients and insurance companies is considerably reduced. In addition, allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are an effective form of treatment aimed at increasing the tolerance to the allergens that trigger a person’s allergy symptoms. The treatment is ultimately successful in up to 90% of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Immunotherapy also has been shown to prevent the development of new allergies, and in children, it can prevent the progression of allergic rhinitis and asthma. Patients receiving immunotherapy treatment showed improved symptoms such as reduced use of medications and better lung function.

However, to achieve these results, it is vital that the immunotherapy be administered at appropriate dosing, time intervals, route of administration, and monitored closely. If this is not done correctly, then a patient may not see the anticipated favorable results. Also, there is risk associated with immunotherapy including anaphylactic shock which can be a severe, life-threatening body-wide reaction that occurs within minutes. Even though it is rare, it is something that mandates immediate treatment and careful monitoring. Dose adjustments must be made by a physician. For best results, according to the immunotherapy practice parameters, immunotherapy is something that is best ordered, administered, and performed under the direction of a physician that is certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology to ensure appropriate results and safety.

There are a variety of methods available to test and treat allergies. Some have proven effective and others have not. A board certified allergist can assist you in avoiding potential pitfalls in diagnosing and treating your allergies and also the possible over-utilization testing and treatment. I recommend contacting a properly trained allergist to determine if you need to undergo allergy testing and immunotherapy treatment. You don’t want tests and treatment you may not need. Conversely, if allergy testing and treatment are necessary, then an allergist is an appropriate specialist to help determine which tests and treatment you may benefit from the most. Studies have shown that will provide you the highest quality of care and is the most cost effective approach. Allergies and asthma are a specialized area of medicine. It is important to seek a specialist who can assist you in determining the appropriateness of specialty tests and treatment of allergies.

Here are some tips and guidelines when you are looking for the right specialist to treat your allergies.

  1. If you are offered allergy testing or treatment, ask to actually see the physician’s credentials and training with regards to allergies and asthma. To achieve the results you deserve, make sure the physician conducting the allergy tests and ordering the treatment has been properly trained to do so.
  2. Studies show that specialists who are board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology will provide the highest quality of care and the lowest cost for patients with allergies and asthma. Those with “certificates of allergy” or “certified technicians” do not have the same training and are not the same as a physician who is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. These can easily be confused.
  3. If you are unsure of what to do, call 215.247.2292 for help.

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