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What does an Allergy Immunologist do?

By Heather Scoville
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An allergy immunologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the field of immunology with a concentration in allergy treatment and prevention. Immunology is the study of the immune system. Allergies result from of an overactive immune response by the body. An allergy immunologist helps diagnose disorders, such as asthma and food allergies, and treats patients with immunotherapy or medications.

While many types of minor allergic reactions can be treated with over-the-counter medications, sometimes an allergy immunologist should be consulted to diagnose a more serious infliction. These physicians can run specialized tests to pinpoint the type and cause of the allergic reactions. Some allergies require periodic immunizations to keep them under control. An allergy immunologist would diagnose and help the patient manage long-term allergies or asthma.

In addition to the usual types of hay fever and asthma, an allergy immunologist also treats chronic issues such as a prolonged cough. Allergy rhinitis and allergy symptoms that will not go away with typical medications are also common ailments treated by these types of doctors. An allergy immunologist also treats conjuctivitis, or allergies in the eyes, and skin ailments such as eczema and hives.

A large number of allergy immunologists specialize in food allergies and anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a condition of the immune system that is caused by a severe allergic reaction to some trigger, such as food, latex, or insect stings. These patients need to be carefully monitored and will often be given prescription medication. The allergy immunologist meets with these patients periodically to assess the effects of the medications and adjust them as necessary.

While medications are often prescribed, an allergy immunologist may also recommend that a patient undergo some type of immunotherapy. Most often, these therapies consist of a specialized diet and exercise program designed to boost the immune system's natural abilities. The physician needs to be aware of the types of foods or natural supplements that can keep the immune system under control. The goal is to reduce the need for medications and to lessen the effects of an allergic reaction.

Becoming an allergy immunologist requires a medical school degree and subsequent specialization. After completing four years of undergraduate study and at least three years of medical school, an additional minimum of two years of training in allergy and immunology is required, depending upon whether the physician wants to work with adults or children. The allergy immunologist candidate must then pass a board exam before becoming certified to practice.

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