How to Navigate the Allergist Independently

Transitioning from childhood allergist appointments with parents to independently navigating the allergist is a significant change for us allergy kids, turned adults. Whether going to appointments alone for the first time or trying a new allergist, there are a number of considerations to make beforehand. So, how do you learn to tackle the allergist appointments without the help of your family?

First, a little history…

Growing up, my mom was there for every appointment. Starting in middle school, I went into appointments alone, however I remained at the same office. I never had to explain my allergy history. Instead, I would walk in with a list of questions that my mom and I had discussed ahead of the appointment. This continued through high school. My mom would sometimes confer with my allergist after the appointments if she still had questions.

All through college and even as I entered into adulthood, I returned to the same allergists office. It wasn’t until I decided to try immunotherapy (allergy shots) that I deviated. Since I didn’t live near the office that I grew up going to, it was vital that I found somewhere closer to my apartment. If I did decide to try allergy shots, it would be a weekly commitment. During this switch, I tried a few new allergists hoping to find a good fit. However, I didn’t realize the challenges I would face.

Switching allergists was difficult because my past allergist knew my history, my allergies, reactions, etc. I had never explained my own allergy history. I was used to everyone knowing me, therefore I didn’t realize the implications of not being already known in an office.

The first allergist I tried was new to the field and asked questions about my allergy history that I realized I wasn’t even sure about. The types of questions that my mom would ace at answering, but I was too young to remember. This allergist was not very patient with my responses or the answers I wasn’t positive about. I left feeling frustrated. However, I also realized that I had to ask my mom these questions in order to fill in the gaps of my own medical history and be better prepared in the future.

I ended up returning to the very first allergist I saw when I was a baby. This was a lucky transition because my allergist has many years of experience and is a renowned expert in the field. He was able to look at my files and quickly understand. I had significantly less explaining to do and felt much more comfortable with the transition. However, I realize this was an unusual outcome.

Here are my tips for those of you that are going to the allergist alone for the first time:

  • Discuss the history with your parents
  • Have your files sent from your old office & check to see that they arrive before your appointment
  • Bring any copies of documents you have (past allergy testing, etc.)
  • Make a list of questions (ask family, too)
  • Take a look at your prescriptions to make sure everything is up-to-date
  • Be ready to answer questions about your health, allergies, etc.

Trying to ‘adult’ in the allergy appointment world, can be quite an obstacle if you don’t have the right information to help when doing it independently. Go to the allergist equipped with your allergy history (including the reactions when you were little that you don’t remember), a list of questions, and be ready to take the lead on your own allergy and asthma health. You’ve got this!

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