When to See an Allergist

Allergists are doctors who specialize in treating asthma.

You may be wondering—why bother going to an allergist instead of your primary care doctor to manage your asthma? Research shows that the best asthma outcomes are seen in patients who are treated by asthma specialists1. Perhaps this is because allergists are specially trained in treating your condition and are more likely to use many of the strategies involved in the 7-P principles to restore your lungs and breathing back to health.

Would you call a licensed electrician to fix leaking pipes? Would you trust the repair of your sports or luxury car to a four-star restaurant chef? Primary care doctors are very good at what they do, but remember that they are generalists, not specialists. Your asthma may need the special attention of an expert in breathing, lungs, and—asthma! That’s where the allergist (or pulmonologist) comes in.

When should you see an allergist for your asthma? Consider the following questions.

  • Have you had a life-threatening asthma attack?
  • Do you have symptoms of asthma during the day and night?
  • Does your asthma interfere with your activities of daily living?
  • Have you had to stay in a hospital because of asthma?
  • Do you have co-existing conditions such as severe hay fever or sinusitis?
  • Do you need help to identify asthma triggers?
  • Do you need additional help and instruction on treatment plans and medicines?
  • Do you think you have allergic triggers that might be helped by allergy shots?
  • Does your asthma require oral corticosteroid therapy or high-dose inhaled corticosteroids?
  • Have you had to take oral corticosteroids more than twice in one year?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you should strongly consider seeing an allergist for support.

1Foggs, Michael B., MD, and Bradley E. Chipps, MD, “Asthma Management and the Allergist: Better Outcomes at Lower Cost,” (American College of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology [ACAAI], 2009).

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