You go to the doctor after suffering from stuffy nose, cough, and sore throat for a few weeks. After asking the usual questions, your provider assures you it’s not a cold, not strep throat… it’s just allergies.
Many people are informally diagnosed with seasonal allergies and are told to manage their symptoms with antihistamines and, basically, move on. There’s not much the provider can do. It can leave you feeling untreated, especially when antihistamines don’t curb your symptoms like you’d hoped they would.
We know that allergies aren’t something you just have to live with. By knowing what to ask your doctor, you can be better equipped to tackle your irritating allergy symptoms.
Am I at risk for life threatening reactions?
When you’re told you have allergies, many jump straight to the thought of severe reactions, seeing the swollen, red face of Will Smith in Hitch flash in their mind. Ask your provider questions about potential reactions, and don’t be afraid to get specific.
If you have a history of reactions or you or your provider suspect an allergy, your provider may recommend you have allergy testing to learn your specific level of sensitivity to environmental allergens. Treatment recommendations can be made from there, and your risk for severe reactions can often be better determined.
For those with certain related conditions, the combination could be the danger; this is particularly true with asthma. Ask your provider if anything in your history could make your allergic reactions more severe, and what you can do to manage both.
What are the side effects of allergy medication?
Your doctor may recommend antihistamines, eye drops, nasal sprays, decongestants, topical creams, or other symptoms relievers. While these treatments may relieve your sniffing and scratching, many can come with undesirable side effects (not to mention the cost). Ask your doctor about potential side effects and what medications might be best for you, based on history and previous use.
What lifestyle modifications should I consider?
There are many lifestyle modifications that can lessen your exposure, and therefore your symptoms! Based on your symptoms and suspected allergy, your doctor should be able to give you tips for avoiding your triggers.
Should I see an allergist?
How do you know when you should see an allergist? Ask your provider if seeing an allergy specialist could benefit your allergies. Like with other medical conditions, seeing a specialist could provide more specific care and recommendations. Allergists can provide disease modifying treatment that gets to the cause of the allergic disease, and related conditions, too!
When looking for an allergist to trust with your allergy care, check out this blog with Dr. George Kroker about the top characteristics to look for in an allergist.
What are the options for treating the cause, rather than covering the symptoms?
While antihistamines and symptom prevention can help, you will likely have to continue these measures year after year. Ask your doctor about treating the cause of the allergic reactions with immunotherapy early on. It doesn’t have to be a last resort and can prevent years of suffering and costs.
One form of immunotherapy is subcutaneous immunotherapy, or allergy shots. The body is slowly introduced to offending allergens with gradually increasing doses until tolerance is built. Generally, shots are given once or twice a week during build up and once or twice a month therafter at an allergist’s office, where the patient can be monitored for severe reactions.
Sublingual immunotherapy, or custom allergy drops, works similarly to allergy shots by gradually increasing doses of offending allergens. Instead of a shot, allergy drops are a liquid drop, placed under the tongue daily. They can be taken wherever you are, as there is minimal risk for severe reactions. Like shots, drops are typically given for three to five years until tolerance is built.
Knowing what questions to ask is the first step in getting the answers you need. Don’t let your seasonal allergies take over this year. Want to know about allergy drops?