If you suffer from allergies, it’s important to find professionals who understand your condition. A general practitioner may have general knowledge of the topic, but you need an experienced allergy specialist or immunologist to get a proper diagnosis – and treatment.
If you’re struggling with allergies in Hong Kong, call us today at (+852) 2523 8044 to make an appointment. We also offer several types of allergy testing.
What Are Allergies?
An allergy is your body’s immune response to something it believes can harm you. Let’s look at a common food allergy as an example. For most people, peanuts are simply a pleasant snack, or a sandwich spread, or an oil used in cooking. For some, the body reacts as though peanuts are an infection that must be fought. Ironically, it is the body’s attempts to protect itself that can be life-threatening.
The body’s response is so extreme that its immunological protections can be fatal. In most people, mucus build-up in the sinuses helps stop an infection that might otherwise make it farther into the body. In the case of someone with an allergy to peanuts or other allergens, this reaction can cause so much mucus to build up in such a short amount of time that it can interfere with breathing. This is where the allergic reaction becomes potentially fatal.
The most extreme form of reaction is called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis is an extreme reaction and must be treated within minutes. Epi-pens, which contain the hormone epinephrine (also called adrenaline), can reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis within minutes. If used, it’s vital that the patient still is taken to a medical professional or allergy clinic to ensure he or she doesn’t have a relapse when the epinephrine wears off.
The good news is that food allergy desensitization is an option for some people, and the life threatening allergy may be able to be removed.
What To Look For In Your Allergy Specialist
When you visit an allergy specialist, think of this meeting as a two-way interview. Your allergy doctor will be working for you to manage your allergies. So be ready to answer questions – and bring a list of your own.
Questions you can expect are, in some cases, obvious. Others are not so apparent. Questions your specialist may ask are:
- Describe your symptoms, and how long you have had them.
- How long do your symptoms happen when they strike?
- Do your symptoms happen at specific times of the year? Allergies to pollen are specific to spring, when plants are pollinating.
- Do your symptoms happen during a specific time of the day, or when you perform a specific activity. Cleaning your house, for example, can cause dust to enter the air. If you react to dust, you can experience an allergic reaction at this time.
- How do your symptoms interfere with your day? For example, do they prevent you from sleeping?
On the other side, here are some questions to consider asking your specialist:
- What is the most likely cause of my allergies?
- What allergy testing do you offer?
- What treatments are available? There are over-the-counter medications like antihistamines, but prescription drugs may be more effective.
- What options are available to remove my allergies? There are methods of desensitizing allergy sufferers from the cause of their allergies, but these can take time – sometimes several years. However, you may be a good candidate for allergy desensitization therapy, so it’s well worth your while to ask.
Working With Your Allergist Specialist
Remember, your allergy specialist is working for you and with you, to manage or mitigate your allergies. Follow your specialist’s recommendations, particularly in medications. And if you have a serious, potentially life-threatening allergy, equip yourself with an Epi-pen. It may save your life.