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Allergies Health Center

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When to See a Doctor for Your Allergies

Reasons that you should see a doctor about your allergies include:

  • Symptoms -- like runny or stuffy nose, cough, or watery eyes -- that last for more than three months.
  • Symptoms that get in the way of your life. Are your allergies so bad that it's getting hard to work or to sleep?
  • Over-the-counter drugs aren't helping, or they're causing side effects. Always read the label.
  • Related health problems. Getting sinus infections over and over, headaches, chronic nasal congestion, or ear infections, can all be signs of allergies that need medical attention.
  • Serious symptoms. Get help right away if you start wheezing, feel short of breath, or tight in the chest.
  • Other health conditions. If you have health problems -- such as heart disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, glaucoma, high blood pressure, enlarged prostate, liver disease, or kidney disease -- treating allergies on your own with over-the-counter drugs may not be safe. Talk to your doctor before taking them. Children and older people with allergies should always see a doctor, too, before starting treatment.

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How Will My Doctor Help?

  • Confirm you have allergies. Only a doctor can diagnose allergies -- or rule them out. Some people who think they have allergies actually have an infection or something called nonallergic rhinitis. Both can feel like allergies, but they need different treatments.
  • Find your triggers. You don't need to guess what makes you allergic. Your doctor can test so you can know for sure. Then you can zero in on the allergens that matter and take steps to avoid them. You may find out that you don't need to worry about other allergy triggers -- like the family cat -- making your life a lot easier.
  • Create a treatment plan. Your doctor can help you come up with a broad plan that may combine medication, staying away from your triggers, and other strategies. Your doctor can give you an emergency plan if you have asthma or a risk of serious allergic reactions.
  • Give you the right medicine. Over-the-counter drugs for allergies can help. You may need stronger prescription medication to handle your symptoms.
  • Control your symptoms. Your doctor can help you tame your runny nose and itchy eyes -- and even stop an allergic reaction before it starts.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on October 26, 2014

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