How to Find an Allergist

What Allergists Do, What Questions to Ask, and Where to Find an Allergist

Pollen
Pollen. Bruno Vincent / Staff / Getty Images

Allergists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing, treating and monitoring allergies, plus related conditions like asthma, eczema and hay fever.

You may need to find an allergist if you've experienced food allergy symptoms, if your pediatrician or primary care doctor wants to refer you for further allergy testing, or if you've moved and need a new allergist in your new location to monitor or treat an already-diagnosed allergy.

There are around 5,500 practicing allergists in the United States.

What to Look For in an Allergist

In some cases, you may be limited by a scarcity of allergists in your geographic area or by your health insurance. Much of the time, however, you'll have a choice of allergists in your geographic area.

To find an allergist, you'll want to look for many of the same things you'd look for in any medical practitioner. These include:

  • an organized and well-run practice
  • a willingness to answer your questions and
  • an appropriate background with respect to credentials, certifications, and continuing education

Allergists who practice in the United States have been through medical school, three years or more of residency in pediatrics or internal medicine, and then at least an additional two years of more specialized training in allergy and immunology.

Board-certified allergists have passed an exam that tested their knowledge of the specialty, and take continuing medical education classes to stay on top of the latest research in their field.

Here are more resources that can help you determine what's most important to you in your future allergy doctor:

Resources for Finding a Great Allergist

Two of the best places to find allergists are through your primary care doctor and through family, friends, or other acquaintances who are currently seeing, or have previously seen, an allergist.

Your primary care doctor may have a list of allergists she likes and is comfortable recommending to patients, and friends and family who have used a medical practice will usually be forthright about a doctor's strengths and weaknesses.

Online resources can also help you make a decision. UCompareHealthCare allows you to search allergists in a given geographic area and will provide you with free reports on board certifications, disciplinary actions, hospital affiliation, and education — all things you'll want to know about before you settle on a practice.

Two other online allergy-specific resources can help you find allergists and immunologists certified by two of the major specialty boards: the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

The ACAAI offers a map-based online search function, while the AAAAI's search allows you to narrow down practitioners by allergy subspecialty.

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