post-title The Specialty of Allergy and Immunology 2015-02-02 18:27:54 yes no Posted by

The Specialty of Allergy and Immunology

By: Dr. Don McNeil Like any other service oriented occupation, the practice of allergy and immunology must constantly try to reach the population in need of our area of expertise. We have a product to market which is our knowledge and training not unlike the automobile mechanic who knows when a repair is necessary and […]

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DonMcNeil-300x278By: Dr. Don McNeil

Like any other service oriented occupation, the practice of allergy and immunology must constantly try to reach the population in need of our area of expertise. We have a product to market which is our knowledge and training not unlike the automobile mechanic who knows when a repair is necessary and how to fix it. It is not hard to suspect a problem; the challenge is to know the correct diagnosis and how to correct it. Because this challenge can be such a difficult one, it’s important to always consult a board-certified allergist.

Do I need to see an allergist?

A person confronted with the endless information available when he or she begins to explore electronic media or word of mouth, can quickly become confused. The biggest billboard or gimmick to attract your attention at the supermarket does not guarantee a perfect result. It is unfortunate that a consumer of medical care often does not have the confidence to know the difference between a slick advertisement and an honest effort to inform someone of the options. He/she may constantly be asking, ‘do I need to see an allergist?’

Most people with allergies or asthma will never require a specialist. Often remedies available over the counter will suffice. For those who do not achieve relief, the family physician will have the knowledge and ability to take the next step in a treatment program. If the general practitioner reaches out to a specialist, it is to investigate or treat with tools not commonly used by that doctor. For those who do not require a referral to a specialist, a patient may schedule an appointment themselves.

When a patient is seen by a specialist, he may be surprised to learn that much emphasis is given to getting a careful history of the symptoms and events leading up to the visit. The testing for allergies or asthma may be the next step in the evaluation but often other possibilities arise that require investigation. The term “differential diagnosis” refers to the other conditions we are trained to consider, particularly in those who fail to recover with the usual management. We are trained in allergy and immunology because a patient referred for an allergy work up may have an immunodeficiency as the cause of repeated infections (sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia). A chronic sinus infection which does not respond to conventional antibiotic therapy may require more extensive evaluation with computed tomography, prolonged antibiotic therapy or an otolaryngology referral for further treatment. At times it seems that our training is more often designed to detect the cause of symptoms which are not allergic and to begin a course of action to treat a gastroenterology problem of reflux esophagitis or a genetic disorder of an enzyme deficiency which is the actual cause of symptoms.

 

 

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