Patients should plan for their first visit to last two to three hours. For allergy testing to be performed, patients need to refrain from taking antihistamines for five days prior to evaluation and should avoid other allergy medications including Singulair for one day prior, and stomach acid treatments such as Pepcid for two days prior to being seen. Patients should bring a list of recent and current medications as well as a detailed health history.
After providing a background health history to the nursing staff, an allergist will take a detailed history of a patient’s concerns and perform a physical exam. Based on those findings, several tests may be performed to clarify the diagnosis and specify treatment options. Spirometry is often performed to assess the health of the lungs and airways, and if the history supports a likely allergic trigger for the patient’s symptoms, allergy skin testing is then performed. Depending on the number and type of allergens suspected, this process can take from thirty minutes to two hours. If skin-specific allergies are suspected, a patch test may be applied to the back and will need to be left on for forty-eight hours, followed by another clinic visit to read the results. If food or drug allergies are suspected, then a follow up for an in-office challenge with the suspected allergen may be scheduled and typically takes two to three hours to perform safely.
Once testing is completed and specific allergen sensitivities are identified, the physician presents the patient with a diagnosis and treatment plan consisting of appropriate avoidance procedures and medications to control symptoms. The physician may also recommend allergen immunotherapy, if appropriate, as a way to reduce and possibly cure the patient’s symptoms. A follow-up visit will be scheduled to check on the patient’s progress.