Education
Fact-checked

At PracticalAdultInsights, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Does an Immunology Specialist Do?

An immunology specialist is a medical professional who studies and treats conditions related to the immune system. They diagnose and manage diseases such as allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, and immunodeficiency. Curious about how they can help improve your health? What specific questions do you have about immunology?
A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman

An immunology specialist is a type of doctor that diagnoses and treats conditions that impact the immune system, such as allergies and auto-immune disorders. Doctors who wish to work in this field usually need additional training and certification beyond medical school or a fellowship in internal medicine or pediatrics. In some cases, an immunology specialist may work in a research laboratory or in an academic setting, investigating the causes of allergies or other immune responses, rather than treating patients.

Usually, an immunology specialist is certified in her field. The process of becoming an immunologist usually takes more than 10 years. Such a physician needs to complete a four-year undergraduate degree, then a medical degree. After earning the medical degree, she is usually expected to perform a residency in pediatric or internal medicine.

An immunology specialist may diagnose and treat allergies.
An immunology specialist may diagnose and treat allergies.

Once that initial residency is complete, she can begin a fellowship in immunology. After completing this phase of training, she needs to pass an examination to become a board-certified immunology specialist. To maintain the specialization, the doctor is expected to take continuing education courses throughout her career.

Immunology specialists diagnose allergies in patients. A physician can perform tests, such as a skin test or breathing test, to evaluate a patient's response to an allergen. Immunologists also diagnose allergic reactions on the skin, such as eczema or hives. Once a diagnosis is made, an immunology specialist develops a treatment plan to prevent the allergic reaction from occurring, or to treat it if it does occur.

An immunology specialist may work in a research laboratory studying the causes of immune responses.
An immunology specialist may work in a research laboratory studying the causes of immune responses.

Allergies are not the only condition that concern immunologists, however. They also evaluate and treat conditions of the immune system, such as auto-immune disorders. These occur when the immune cells attack healthy cells in the body. Examples of auto-immune disorders include lupus and multiple sclerosis. When a person has one of these diseases, her immune system attacks the organs and tissues of her body, leading to inflammation. To treat such auto-immune disorders, a physician may prescribe corticosteroids or drugs that suppress the immune system to alleviate the condition.

Immunologists might work to reduce the severity of allergy symptoms.
Immunologists might work to reduce the severity of allergy symptoms.

Some of these specialists treat patients with immune system deficiencies. A deficient immune system can be an inherited condition or caused by a virus. Usually, an immunologist will perform a blood test to diagnose an immunodeficiency. Treatments may include antibiotics to fight infections and therapy to improve the immune system's response.

An immunology specialist may choose to work in an academic setting instead of a clinical one. This type of doctor will conduct lab tests to develop new treatment methods or diagnostic tests. She may write papers detailing the results of her tests for publication in medical journals. In some cases, she may present her data at conferences.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • An immunology specialist may diagnose and treat allergies.
      By: FedeCandoniPhoto
      An immunology specialist may diagnose and treat allergies.
    • An immunology specialist may work in a research laboratory studying the causes of immune responses.
      By: .shock
      An immunology specialist may work in a research laboratory studying the causes of immune responses.
    • Immunologists might work to reduce the severity of allergy symptoms.
      By: Lsantilli
      Immunologists might work to reduce the severity of allergy symptoms.
    • The process of becoming an immunologist typically takes more than 10 years.
      By: sepy
      The process of becoming an immunologist typically takes more than 10 years.