Why See a Board-Certified Allergist?
Maybe you are tired of that runny nose that seems to come on like clockwork every spring. Perhaps you wonder why you wake up at night coughing. Or you wonder why you get a rash every time you eat shrimp. Maybe you are sick and tired of getting sick all of the time.
While your primary care physician is a great place to start, sometimes seeing a physician who specializes in the fields of allergy, asthma, and deficiencies of the immune system can provide more in depth insight into why you feel like you do.
But why choose a board certified allergist, you might ask? Many types of physicians manage allergies. Some even claim to be “allergists”. Why should you take the time to find an expert?
Allergists are experts in the broad field of allergy & immunology. The field of allergy encompasses many conditions including allergic rhinitis (nasal and eye allergies caused by pollen, mold, pets, etc.), food allergies, medication allergies, and allergies to stinging insects like bees and wasps. It also includes asthma, chronic hives, recurrent angioedema (swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat), and many other conditions. All allergists are also specialists in the field of immunology, which involves genetic defects in the immune system that cause people to get sick more frequently than they should. Allergists are trained to care for people of all ages and understand the complex conditions associated with each age group.
Allergists, like all doctors, complete 4 years of medical school following college graduation. Like all doctors, they complete an intensive residency training program following medical school graduation. Allergists complete either a residency in internal medicine (specialty care of adults) or pediatrics (specialty care of children). Some choose to do a combined residency in both fields. Unlike other doctors, however, allergists then go on to complete a 2, 3, or even 4 year fellowship program in allergy and immunology. These programs combine rigorous research in the field with intense training specifically in allergy and immunology. This prepares the allergist to diagnose and treat allergies of all kinds, diagnose and manage asthma, prepare and manage allergy shots, diagnose and manage complex immunodeficiencies, as well as many other conditions. No other type of doctor receives the same level of specialized training in these areas. Following completion of the fellowship program, allergists must take and pass a rigorous board examination to become board certified. To keep their skills up to date, allergists have to complete specified activities each year to maintain their certification and must periodically retake the board examination. Only allergists who have completed a fellowship, passed board examinations, and are current with maintaining their certification can call themselves “Board-Certified”.
So, to make a long story short, many different doctors can and do manage allergies. We at Hedberg Allergy & Asthma think you will find that it pays to see a true specialist!