Why See a Board Certified Allergist?

Board Certified

By: ABAI

Board certified in 1993. Maintaining certification over 24 years.

Why See A Board Certified Allergist?

Do you suffer from recurrent runny nose sneezing, nasal congestion every spring, summer or fall? Do you wake up in the middle of the night coughing? Do you have frequent sinus headaches or suffer from cold symptoms that last more than ten days? Do you develop a skin rash when you eat certain foods or take certain medications? If your answer to any of these questions is positive, you may be among the over 50 million people in the US who suffer from allergies.

Many allergy patients seek treatment from their primary care providers and this may be a great way to start. However, it is necessary, sometimes, to see a board-certified allergist and immunologist who can provide more in depth insight into these medical problems and help formulate an effective management plan. These experts are trained to treat allergy and immunology problems at their source.

An allergist and immunologist (commonly referred to as an allergist) is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases, asthma and immunologic disorders including primary immunodeficiency disorders. The field of allergy and immunology is very broad and it encompasses many conditions such as asthma, nasal and eye allergies (caused by pollen, mold, pets, etc.), food allergies, medication allergies, latex allergy, and allergy to insects such as wasps, yellow jacket, honey bees, hornets and fire ant. It also includes chronic diseases of the skin such as atopic dermatitis, chronic hives, recurrent swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat (angioedema) as well as complex genetic defects in the immune system that predispose people to recurrent infections. Thus, conditions treated by allergists encompass various organs and span all ages.

In the United States, to become an allergist requires several years of training after the first degree. One has to first complete 4 years of medical school like any other medical doctor and also complete 3 years of residency in internal medicine or pediatrics. Some doctors do combined residency in medicine and pediatrics. Upon completion of residency, one must then pass a board exam and become certified in pediatrics or internal medicine. After this, allergists then spend a minimum of two but up to four additional years of training (fellowship) in the field of allergy and immunology. This fellowship involves intensive research and training in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of immune system disorders such as asthma, other allergic conditions and immunodeficiency disorders. It is this specialized training that prepares an allergist to competently diagnose and manage asthma and different types of allergies, as well as complex immunologic disorders encountered in clinical practice. After completing the fellowship program, an allergist must take and pass a board examination to become board-certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI). In addition, every year, a board-certified allergist must complete certain specified activities designed to keep their skills up to date as part of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program. Every ten years, he or she must retake and pass the board examination. Thus, the term “Board-Certified” is reserved

for only those allergists who completed fellowship, passed the board examinations and continue to maintain certification.

In sum, while many medical providers treat patients with allergies, only board-certified allergists, by virtue of their specialized training and fulfillment of very stringent credentialing process, are the true specialists in this field!