The first thing your doctor will do is talk to you. He’ll examine you and ask questions about your symptoms and your family’s history of allergies, such as:
- What kinds of symptoms do you have?
- How long have you had them?
- When your symptoms happen, how long do they last?
- Do your symptoms come and go throughout the year, or do they last year-round?
- Do your symptoms hit when you’re outdoors, or indoors -- like when you clean your home?
- Do they get worse when you’re around pets? Do you have any pets?
- Do you smoke? Does anyone in your family smoke?
- Do your symptoms keep you from doing things, or from sleeping at night?
- What makes your symptoms better? What types of treatments have you tried?
- What allergy drugs are you taking now? Do they help?
- What other medications are you taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements?
- What kind of heating system do you have? Do you have central air conditioning?
- Do you have any other health conditions, like asthma or high blood pressure?
- Do you have problems with your sense of smell or taste?
- Do you get better on the weekend and worse when you go back to work?
Your doctor could send you to a board-certified allergist who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies, or he might suggest medication. An allergist will run tests to find out exactly what you’re allergic to, so together you can create the right treatment plan.
Questions for Your Doctor
You get to ask questions, too. Start with these.
- What’s causing my allergies?
- What symptoms should I be concerned about? When should I call your office?
- What allergy medications or other treatments are available? What are the benefits and side effects of each?
- Will I need allergy shots?
- Should I take medicine all the time or only when my symptoms get worse?
- Should I stop outdoor exercise?
- What types of plants are best to put in my yard?
- What can I do around my home to get fewer symptoms?
- What can I do to have fewer symptoms when I go outside?
- How can I tell the difference between allergies and a cold or the flu?
- Will changing my diet help?
- How often should I come in for follow-up appointments?