The Allergist’s Role Part Three
You’ve established that your child should see an allergist, or you’ve already been referred to one by another physician, for treatment or management of your child’s food allergies. And you’ve done the research to find the right board certified allergist to ensure your child receives appropriate care for his individual circumstance. The appointment is made and it’s time to meet with your child’s new allergist for the first time. This is the time to determine whether the chosen allergist is a good fit for you and your child.
If you haven’t already read Parts One and Two of My Kids Food Allergy’s series The Allergist’s Role, Why an Allergist Might Be Better at Treating Your Child’s Food Allergies Than Other Doctors and How to Choose the Right Allergy Specialist For Your Child: 5 Tips to Remember, now might be a good time to check out both articles to learn more about allergists, their role in your child’s food allergy management and how to choose the right allergist for your child. This installment in the series reviews a plan that can help get you ready for the first meeting with your child’s new allergist.
The following 3 Steps can help you prepare for that first visit.
Come prepared to ask questions
- It’s generally good practice for patients and doctors to ask each other questions to get a sense of the issues that need to be addressed and to determine if the doctor-patient relationship is a good fit. Ask the allergist several questions about her experience, certifications, treatment style and her availability for your child.
Is she currently board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI)?
Does she typically treat children? While some allergists see patients of all ages, some only treat adults or children.
What is her general approach to allergy treatment? Does her style tend to be more aggressive or conservative with regard to treatments?
Does she accept your insurance? It’s important to be sure your child’s allergist visits are covered by your medical insurance and that the allergist’s practice accepts your insurance provider.
Does she provide same–day office visits if your child is sick as a result of allergies? Many allergists can see patients on the same day when they are sick. However, others do not provide this service and will instead refer you back to your primary care physician for sick visits.
Are after hours and weekend telephone service hours available? Many allergists will provide services for allergy-related urgent issues that may arise after hours or on weekends. There is generally an associated cost, and not all insurance plans cover these types of services, so it may be a good idea to check your coverage as well.
Are Nurse Practitioners (NPs) or Physicians Assistants (PAs) regularly used in the practice? While it is generally considered an accepted practice to allow NPs or PAs to see sick and follow-up patients, it is important for you to know whether someone other than the allergist may see your child at some visits. If the allergist does participate in this accepted practice but you’d rather your child only see the allergist for visits, it is okay for you to insist. However, you may have to wait longer for appointments and may not be able to “get into the office” right away.
Come prepared to answer questions
- While your process for selecting an allergist may focus more on personal preference, a physician will need to know important medical information to ensure she is the proper specialist to provide the best care for your child. The following are some questions the allergist may ask:
What is the primary reason for choosing to see an allergist for your child? One answer may be that another doctor referred you to an allergist for your child’s moderate to severe food allergies. Another answer may be that you wished your child, who suffers from food allergies, to be seen by a physician who specializes in food allergies.
What are your child’s allergy symptoms? Try to be as specific as possible when detailing the frequency and severity of symptoms. If any symptoms are more troubling for you or your child than others, be sure to let the allergist know.
How long has your child experienced these symptoms? Has it been weeks, months or even years?
Are you aware of any triggers to allergy reactions? You may or may not have the answer to this question, but it can be helpful for the allergist to know if you have previously identified things that you believe are allergy triggers.
Does your child have any allergies to medicines? Allergies to medications can be vital information for your allergist. It is also important to let her know the symptoms that occur when exposed to the medication. Are they mild, moderate, severe or cause anaphylaxis?
Is your child currently taking any medications? It is important to know if any medications your child is taking may possibly conflict with other medications or treatment plans your allergist may recommend.
- What medications have you tried in the past for treatment of allergy symptoms? It can also be helpful to know whether or not you have had good results with any specific medications in the past.
- Has your child previously had allergy tests conducted, and if so, which ones? Informing your allergist of previous testing can be helpful.
- Does your child suffer from other allergies? Such as bee stings, pollen or animal dander.
Bring all pertinent medical information to the visit
Try to bring any relevant medical information you have to the visit. Having the information on hand could make answering the allergist’s questions easier and make the office visit more effective and efficient. Consider bringing the following items with you:
- Your list of questions
- A list of current medications
- Any information about previous allergy tests and results
- Name and contact information of your child’s referring and/or primary physician
- Insurance Card
The previous article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. As always, consult with your child’s physician when making any medical decisions.