Should I See an Allergist?
Do you know when you should see an allergist?
Probably not. And why would you? You rely on your healthcare providers to make that decision and to guide you to the right answer. Right?
Unfortunately, most don’t know either. Allergy is a pretty complicated specialty that is poorly understood. I get referrals all the time who shouldn’t see me… and talk to even more people who should see an allergist but haven’t! So why not ask an allergist first and find out for yourself? That’s what I am doing with MyAllergyFriend: giving you open access to an allergist to help you figure out whether you should go to an allergist or not!
I hope to be your “friend” in allergy: the person who will help you get the right medical care and to stop accepting “good enough” for your allergy and asthma care.
“Should I see an allergist? Should I go to an allergist?”
When I get asked by my colleagues why I created MyAllergyFriend… why I try to give away medical advice for free… I ask them how often their patients want to know “when should I see an allergist?”
The answer is pretty startling.
10-30% of people have allergy symptoms. And people want to know whether they should see an allergist and what an allergist can do for them!
Unfortunately, most medical providers are wrong when explaining when their patients should see an allergist.
Let me explain.
Allergies are actually pretty complicated.
Many of my patients see me after unsuccessfully using the internet to self-diagnose or after becoming frustrated that THEY HAD TO ASK their primary care provider to see an allergist.
Most patients need a referral to see an allergist… and primary care seems less likely to help.
Worse, people want to see an allergist for very good questions: do they have “an allergy vs. a cold,” do they have a “food allergy vs. food sensitivity,” or even “what are all the symptoms of allergy, asthma, or inflammation.”
But most people can’t get straight answers.
It shouldn’t be that hard to feel your very best!
Should I go to an allergist? Who is ACTUALLY the BEST person to help you?
If your answer is to go to your primary care physician for your allergy and asthma questions… you’re probably wrong!
I love my primary care provider. He is someone that I can trust, someone my family trusts, and is a person I significantly respect. I have met many amazing primary care providers who know how to treat allergies correctly (and I created a training program to help even more).
If you have a great primary care provider… a person you can trust and who truly embodies what it means to be a good physician… please let me know here so that I can refer patients to them! I get a lot of requests from across the US (and starting outside the US) and I am always looking for a good provider.
But many primary care physicians simply do not know everything about allergies.
This is due to a few things:
- A potential lack of formal training
- Did you know that many pediatric, family practice and internal medicine programs don’t require allergy/asthma rotations during training?
- They just expect you’ll “pick it up” along the way.
- They may not be up to date with current allergy/asthma treatments
- My job, day in and day out, is to be 100% current on allergy and asthma care.
- They might be recommending older treatment options.
- Or worse, they be giving give advice that is based on a recent “fad.”
Do I REALLY need to see an allergist? I mean… really?
Before I answer that question, consider these facts from a simple PubMed search:
- Only 1/3 of patients with “allergy symptoms” ACTUALLY have allergies.
- This means most patients are getting a partial/wrong diagnosis.
- 67% of people might be getting unnecessary and often ineffective treatment.
- 88% of primary care physicians INCORRECTLY thought seasonal allergy symptoms were caused by food allergy.
- Less than 30% of primary care physicians know how to correctly interpret food-allergy labs.
- Again, this is not their fault. I would be terrible at giving you cancer treatment advice.
- But this doesn’t mean that YOU can’t find the right solution.
- OVER HALF of potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis episodes are misdiagnosed in the ER!
- Scarier: only 9% of ER physicians use the current practice guidelines to diagnose anaphylaxis.
- Even scarier: Worse, the correct life-saving treatment (epinephrine) was used in LESS THAN HALF of those patients!
So… how good are medical providers at treating allergies? (continue to part 2)
1. “The Diagnosis and Management of Rhinitis: An Updated Practice Parameter.” J Allergy Clin Immunol 2008; 122:S1-84
2. Gupta, Ruchi et al. Food Allergy Knoweldge, Attitudes, and Beliefs of Primary Care Physicians. Pediatrics. Jan 2010; 125(1): 126-32.
3. Russell WS, Farrar JR, Nowak R, et al. Eval- uating the management of anaphylaxis in US emergency departments. World J Emerg Med. 2013;4(2):98-106.
4. If you want more examples, I will send them. This is not me cherry picking the literature but rather a shocking truth about the consistency of diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases