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An allergist is a doctor who is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases.

These conditions may include:

  • Asthma and chronic cough
  • Hay fever
  • Sinus infections
  • Eye allergies
  • Reactions to food, insect stings, and drugs
  • Skin allergies, including eczema, hives and swelling
  • Immune system problems
  • Frequent infections

After earning a medical degree, the physician must complete a three-year residency training program in either internal medicine or pediatrics. The physician then completes an additional two or three years of fellowship study in the field of asthma, allergy and immunology. To become a Board Certified Allergist, the doctor must then pass a written examination given by the American Board of Allergy & Immunology (ABAI). The ABAI is the only certification board in allergy that is approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the overriding board that sets out training standards required to be board certified in almost all medical specialties.

When should I see an allergist?

Some useful guidelines include:

  • Your allergies are causing secondary symptoms such as chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion or difficulty breathing.
  • You experience hay fever or other allergy symptoms several months out of the year.
  • Antihistamines and other over-the-counter medications do not control your allergy symptoms, or create unacceptable side effects, such as drowsiness.
  • Your asthma or allergies are interfering with your ability to carry on day-to-day activities.
  • Your asthma or allergies decrease the quality of your life.

You should also contact us if you are experiencing warning signs of asthma such as:

  • You occasionally have to struggle to catch your breath.
  • You often wheeze or cough, especially at night or after exercise.
  • You are frequently short of breath or feel tightness in your chest.
  • You have previously been diagnosed with asthma but, despite treatment, you still have frequent acute asthma attacks.