What does an allergist do?

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What is an Allergist?

An allergist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of allergic diseases and immune system disorders. These conditions can include allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, eczema, food allergies, drug allergies, insect sting allergies, and immune deficiencies.

Allergists have extensive training and expertise in identifying the triggers and underlying causes of allergic reactions, as well as developing personalized treatment plans to help patients manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

What does an Allergist do?

An allergist doing a skin prick allergy test on a patient's arm.

Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of an allergist encompass a range of clinical, diagnostic, and therapeutic activities aimed at diagnosing, treating, and managing allergic diseases and immune system disorders. Some of their key responsibilities include:

  • Diagnosis of Allergic Conditions: Allergists are responsible for conducting comprehensive medical evaluations and diagnostic tests to identify the triggers and underlying causes of allergic reactions. They take detailed medical histories, perform physical examinations, and may use specialized tests such as skin prick tests, blood tests, and pulmonary function tests to assess allergic sensitivities and lung function.
  • Treatment Planning and Management: Allergists develop personalized treatment plans tailored to each patient's specific allergic condition, medical history, and individual needs. These treatment plans may include allergen avoidance strategies, medications such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, and immunomodulators, as well as allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots) or sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) for long-term symptom management and desensitization.
  • Patient Education and Counseling: Allergists play a crucial role in educating patients about their allergies, triggers, and treatment options. They provide guidance on allergen avoidance strategies, medication management, symptom monitoring, and emergency preparedness for allergic reactions. Allergists also counsel patients on lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and environmental adjustments to help minimize exposure to allergens and improve overall quality of life.
  • Collaboration with Multidisciplinary Teams: Allergists work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals, including primary care physicians, pulmonologists, dermatologists, and pediatricians, to provide comprehensive care for patients with allergic conditions. They may consult with specialists in related fields to address complex cases, coordinate care plans, and ensure continuity of care for patients with multiple medical issues or comorbidities.
  • Research and Professional Development: Some allergists are actively involved in clinical research, academic teaching, and professional development activities to advance the field of allergy and immunology. They may participate in clinical trials, publish research findings, and contribute to medical education and training programs for healthcare professionals. Allergists stay informed about the latest advancements in allergy diagnosis, treatment modalities, and emerging therapies to provide the highest standard of care to their patients.

Types of Allergists
Allergists, also known as allergy and immunology specialists, may specialize in various areas within the field of allergy and immunology, depending on their clinical interests, training, and expertise. Some common types of allergists include:

  • Adult Allergists: Adult allergists focus on diagnosing and managing allergic conditions in adult patients. They treat a broad spectrum of allergic diseases and immune system disorders commonly encountered in adults, including seasonal allergies, asthma, allergic skin conditions, medication allergies, and immune deficiencies. Adult allergists may also specialize in managing allergic conditions in older adults and elderly patients.
  • Asthma Specialists: Asthma specialists, also known as asthma and allergy specialists, specialize in the diagnosis and management of asthma, a chronic respiratory condition characterized by airway inflammation and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. They assess asthma severity, identify triggers, and develop personalized treatment plans to control symptoms, reduce exacerbations, and improve lung function in patients with asthma.
  • Drug Allergy Specialists: Drug allergy specialists specialize in diagnosing and managing adverse reactions to medications, including allergic reactions, hypersensitivity reactions, and drug-induced immune responses. They evaluate patients with suspected drug allergies, perform diagnostic tests such as skin testing and drug provocation tests, and provide guidance on medication alternatives and desensitization protocols.
  • Food Allergy Specialists: Food allergy specialists focus on diagnosing and managing food allergies, immune-mediated adverse reactions to specific foods or food components. They conduct comprehensive evaluations, including skin prick tests, oral food challenges, and blood tests, to identify food allergens and develop individualized management strategies, such as allergen avoidance, emergency action plans, and immunotherapy.
  • Immunologists: Immunologists focus on the study and treatment of immune system disorders, including autoimmune diseases, immunodeficiencies, and hypersensitivity reactions. They assess immune system function, identify underlying immune system abnormalities, and develop treatment plans to modulate immune responses and manage immune-mediated conditions.
  • Pediatric Allergists: Pediatric allergists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic conditions in children and adolescents. They have expertise in managing pediatric-specific allergic diseases such as food allergies, atopic dermatitis (eczema), allergic rhinitis, asthma, and allergic reactions to insect stings. Pediatric allergists are skilled in providing age-appropriate care and addressing the unique needs of pediatric patients and their families.

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What is the workplace of an Allergist like?

The workplace of an allergist can vary depending on their specific practice setting and professional preferences. Many allergists work in outpatient clinics or private practices, where they see patients for consultations, evaluations, and follow-up appointments. These clinics may be part of larger healthcare facilities such as hospitals or medical centers, or they may operate independently. In these settings, allergists typically have dedicated examination rooms equipped with diagnostic tools and equipment for evaluating allergic conditions, such as skin prick test kits, spirometry machines for lung function testing, and medication administration supplies for allergy shots.

Some allergists may also work in academic medical centers, research institutions, or allergy and immunology specialty centers. In these settings, allergists may have opportunities to engage in clinical research, teaching, and academic activities in addition to providing patient care. They may collaborate with other healthcare professionals, including primary care physicians, pulmonologists, dermatologists, and pediatricians, to provide multidisciplinary care for patients with complex allergic conditions or immune system disorders. Academic allergists may also supervise medical students, residents, and fellows as part of their teaching responsibilities.

Additionally, allergists may participate in community outreach programs, allergy screening events, and educational seminars to raise awareness about allergic diseases, promote preventive measures, and provide resources to individuals and families affected by allergies. Some allergists may also be involved in advocacy efforts aimed at improving access to allergy care, supporting research initiatives, and addressing public health concerns related to allergic conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Doctor Specializations and Degrees

The following is a comprehensive list of the various specializations that a doctor can pursue and a brief summary of each specialization:

  • Allergist: An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, and related conditions. Allergists have specialized training in the recognition and management of allergic reactions.
  • Anesthesiologist: An anesthesiologist keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic.
  • Cardiologist: A cardiologist specializes in finding, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart, the arteries, and the veins.
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in surgical procedures inside the thorax (the chest), which may involve the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.
  • Chiropractic Neurologist: A chiropractic neurologist is a specialized type of chiropractor who has undergone additional training in the field of neurology. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system.
  • Chiropractor: A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. Treatment is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
  • Colorectal Surgeon: A colorectal surgeon specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract. These surgeons work closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.
  • Doctor: An general overview of what a doctor does and how to become one.
  • Dentist: Dentists identify potential oral health issues such as gum disease, as well as examine patients, order medical tests and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. They also perform oral surgery and remove teeth or address other dental health problems.
  • Dermatologist: A dermatologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, sweat and oil glands, nails, and mucus membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) which can include cancer.
  • Emergency Medicine Physician: An emergency medicine physician works in emergency departments, hospitals, and urgent care clinics, and is often the first medical professional that patients see when they are in need of urgent medical care.
  • Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing conditions and diseases related to the glands and hormones. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for conditions and diseases directly related to glands and hormones they will typically send a patient to an endocrinologist.
  • Family Practitioner: A family practitioner specializes in caring for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a wide array of medical issues.
  • Forensic Pathologist: A forensic pathologist investigates the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, and is able to determine how a person died by performing an autopsy and studying tissue and laboratory results. These doctors are often called upon to provide evidence in court regarding the cause and time of such deaths.
  • Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist has specific training in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This may include diseases and disorders that affect the the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
  • Geriatrician: A geriatrician specializes in the care of elderly patients, and often works with patients who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related cognitive and functional impairments.
  • Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in women's reproductive systems. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
  • Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, such as anemia and leukemia.
  • Hospitalist: A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.
  • Immunologist: An immunologist specializes in managing problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. A smaller number of immunologists are strictly researchers seeking to better understand how the immune system works and to help develop better ways of diagnosing and providing treatment for many immunological conditions.
  • Infectious Disease Specialist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
  • Internist: An internist is a 'doctor of internal medicine' who can diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex illness. They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
  • Medical Examiner: Medical examiners are responsible for performing autopsies and collecting evidence related to the circumstances of a death, including medical history, physical examination findings, and toxicology tests.
  • Naturopathic Physician: A naturopathic physician blends modern scientific medical practice and knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. The goal is to treat the underlying causes of disease while stimulating the body's own healing abilities.
  • Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. They treat conditions such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Neurologist: A neurologist specializes in treating diseases that affect the human nervous system. It is a very prestigious and difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
  • Neurosurgeon: A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
  • Obstetrician: An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
  • Occupational Physician: Occupational medicine is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health.
  • Oncologist: An oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three primary types of oncologists are: medical oncologists that specialize in the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells; surgical oncologists that perform surgical procedures to identify and remove cancerous tumors; and radiation oncologists that treat cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a specialist that deals specifically with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Due to the complexities and the importance of the eye as a special sense that provides vision, the discipline of ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this organ.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues. Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.
  • Orthodontist: An orthodontist specializes in how the jaws and teeth are aligned. They help people whose teeth are misaligned or require some kind of correction – those with an improper bite, or malocclusion.
  • Orthopedic Surgeon / Orthopedist: An orthopaedic surgeon (or orthopedist) examines, diagnoses, and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
  • Osteopath: Osteopaths have attended and graduated from an osteopathic medical school and practise the system of healthcare known as osteopathy. They consider all aspects of the patient, not just the symptoms they exhibit. They see the integrated nature of the body’s organ systems and its capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
  • Otolaryngologist: Otolaryngologists (or ENT physicians) are specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.
  • Pathologist: A pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of disease. The field of pathology is broad with concentrations on changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of a disease.
  • Pediatrician: A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to infants, children and teenagers by administering treatments, therapies, medications and vaccinations to treat illness, disorders or injuries.
  • Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in oral inflammation, and who knows how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease.
  • Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, and also in repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, illness or malformation.
  • Podiatrist: A podiatrist practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, podiatry is practiced as a specialty.
  • Prosthodontist: A prosthodontist specializes in restoring the look, function, comfort, and health of a patient's oral cavity with artificial materials. These artificial materials are made up of a wide variety of restorations that include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and oral implants.
  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.
  • Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions and diseases of the chest, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections.
  • Radiologist: A radiologist is a specialist in interpreting medical images that may be obtained with x-rays, (CT scans or radiographs), nuclear medicine (involving radioactive substances, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound.
  • Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • Sports Medicine Physician: A sports medicine physician specializes in taking care of people who have sports injuries that may be acquired from playing sports, exercising, or from otherwise being physically active.
  • Surgeon: A surgeon performs surgery for the purpose of removing diseased tissue or organs, to repair body systems, or to replace diseased organs with transplants.
  • Telemedicine Physician: A telemedicine physician provides remote healthcare services to patients using telecommunications technology, facilitating virtual consultations, diagnoses, and treatment recommendations.
  • Urologist: A urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male reproductive organs. There are also specific specialty areas that urologists may choose to focus on, such as pediatric urology, male infertility, and urologic oncology.
  • Vascular Medicine Specialist - A vascular medicine specialist specializes in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels. They may work with patients who have conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Vascular Surgeon - A vascular surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels, including aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins.
  • Veterinary Dentist - A veterinary dentist is a specialized veterinarian who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of dental diseases and conditions in animals. They perform dental procedures such as cleanings, extractions, and oral surgeries to improve the oral health and well-being of pets and other animals.


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See Also
Doctor Anesthesiologist Cardiologist Cardiothoracic Surgeon Chiropractor Colorectal Surgeon Dentist Dermatologist Emergency Medicine Physician Endocrinologist Family Practitioner Forensic Pathologist Gastroenterologist Geriatrician Gynecologist Hematologist Hospitalist Immunologist Infectious Disease Specialist Internist Medical Examiner Naturopathic Physician Nephrologist Neurologist Neurosurgeon Obstetrician Occupational Physician Oncologist Ophthalmologist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Orthopedic Surgeon Orthopedist Orthodontist Osteopath Otolaryngologist Pathologist Pediatrician Periodontist Plastic Surgeon Podiatrist Prosthodontist Psychiatrist Pulmonologist Radiologist Rheumatologist Sports Medicine Physician Surgeon Urologist Vascular Medicine Specialist Vascular Surgeon Chiropractic Neurologist Veterinary Dentist Telemedicine Physician