What to ask your doctor about allergies
Guest editor Sarah Huddy shares her top 10 questions to ask your doctor about allergies – the what, the why and how, to help your child with their diagnosis.
Allergies are common in children and are on the rise globally, so if you suspect your child may be suffering from allergies or experiencing severe reactions, it’s advisable to consult a medical professional. It can feel overwhelming when your child’s health is at risk, but it helps if you are prepared for the appointment.
Here’s a helpful list of questions to ask
- What tests will be performed? There are different types of allergy tests available, the most common being the skin prick test and allergen-specific IgE blood tests. The prospect of needles and nurses can be daunting for children (and their parents), but these are necessary for a diagnosis. Find out what you can expect and how to make your child feel most at ease during the test.
- What would be a good or bad test result? Ask your doctor to explain the test results fully and request a copy for your own records.
- Once we have the test results and a diagnosis, what treatment plan should we follow? What lifestyle changes should we make and how can we do so with as little impact on my child as possible? Provide your doctor with insight into your child’s usual activities, extramurals, school and home life so they can provide practical guidelines.
- Does my child require medication, and if so, for how long? How should the medication be administered and what possible side-effects must I be aware of? Discuss the option of alternative treatments, if available.
- What further tests may be required? Your doctor or specialist may need to run further tests to complete your child’s allergy evaluation. Providing details of any family history of allergies may be valuable in making a diagnosis.
- Is there a possibility that my child will outgrow their allergies? Factors include the type and number of allergies, and severity of symptoms.
- Request reading material from your doctor. Learn about allergies and how they can affect your child and family. Educate your child’s carers, relatives and school about your child’s allergies and how to best manage their symptoms.
- How often should my child return to the doctor for check-ups? If your child is on medication, you may require repeat scripts.
- Are there allergists or specialists in your area that your doctor can recommend for further evaluation? Consulting a dietician can be helpful when you are coping with severe food allergies, for example.
- What should I do in case of an emergency? Discuss possible symptoms that would require emergency medication, a trip to the doctor or hospitalisation. Draft an emergency plan and provide a copy to guardians, relatives, and your child’s school. Include your doctor’s contact details and a copy of your medical aid card (if applicable).
Visit allergyfoundation.co.za for more information, or join their Facebook page: facebook.com/SAallergy
Allergies can be a lifelong condition, so it’s important to find a doctor you and your child trust. You want a doctor who will listen and take the time to explain everything you need to know, so that you can effectively manage your child’s treatment plan. Fortunately, coping with allergies is easier with the right support and information.