Allergists are physicians trained to treat and manage all kinds of allergic reactions in patients - ranging from a common sore throat to more severe reactions, such as those that cause anaphylactic shock.

Watch an Overview of Allergy Medicine

About Allergy Medicine

The medical specialty practiced by allergists provides care for patients suffering from allergies (allergic reactions) and other similar immunological disorders. Patients are usually referred to an allergist by their primary care physician when their condition requires the care of a specialist. Allergists are able to test for and treat a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to: asthma, allergic eye diseases, eczema, hay fever, sinusitis, hives, chronic cough, all types of allergic reactions, and frequent immune disorders.

Allergists may provide preventive care by implementing control measures to assist the patient in reducing exposure to allergic stimulants, such as pollen or mold. Allergists will also prescribe medication to aid the patient in controlling future allergic symptoms and reactions. Allergists may utilize immunotherapy, commonly known as allergy shots. Allergy shots allow the immune system to become more tolerant of the allergens which are being injected. After regular increasing dosages, the patient’s immune system may be restored to near full functionality.

Because each patient will react differently to different allergens, the allergist will craft a unique treatment and management plan for each patient. In some cases, patients may have a severe reaction to an allergen, causing anaphylactic shock. In order to prevent anaphylactic shock, the physician will craft a plan to minimize exposure to the shock-causing allergens, and provide the patient with an emergency epinephrine shot to counteract the allergic reaction. In other situations, less-severe reactions may occur, such as an itchy throat or eyes. In these cases, the physician may provide prescription medications that work to reduce the patient's symptoms.

Allergy Medicine Education & Training

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), to become an allergist a physician must complete at least nine years of training beyond an undergraduate degree – this includes medical school, residency training and specialized fellowship training. After approximately 8 years of education to earn a bachelor’s degree and MD or DO medical degree, the physician continue on to complete three years of residency training in either internal medicine or pediatrics.

Following the completion of the requisite residency requirements, the physician is required to attain fellowship training in the area of allergy/immunology. Fellowship training programs typically last two years – during this time, the physician is able to acquaint his or herself with the various facets of patient care and research within the allergy specialty.

Following fellowship training, many allergists seek board certification from the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI). All physicians, including allergists, must seek state licensure to begin providing medical care.