Welcome to Vancouver Allergy & Asthma Center
We are pleased you are considering us to provide your allergy care and hope to make the process as pleasant as possible. If you have any questions about what to expect, many of those questions may be answered below. If there are any remaining questions, please do not hesitate to call and inquire.
Please Select a Topic / Question
• What Should I Expect from the First Allergy Appointment?
• What are Allergy Skin Tests?
• What Testing is Done for Asthma?
• What Testing is Done for Sinusitis?
• What Can I do Prior to the First Appointment to Get the Most Out of the Visit?
What Should I Expect from the First Allergy Appointment?
At the first appointment we collect a broad range of information. The doctor conducts a medical interview regarding the allergy symptoms. We also will review the information you provide as part of a questionnaire that is sent to you before you come in. The doctor then performs a physical examination that is pertinent to your condition.
After the medical history and physical, you will receive recommendations regarding the testing that may need to be performed. Some of the tests we offer are allergy skin tests, testing of lung function, or tests for sinusitis.
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What are Allergy Skin Tests?
Allergy skin tests are often the best tests available for finding your particular allergies, or those of your child. What we do is “prick” the outermost part of the skin on the arm or back with a small device coated with different allergens. The prick does not draw blood. Then, we wait about fifteen minutes and see if there is redness and swelling, sort of like a mosquito bite. Sometimes this is followed by a test with a small needle like a TB test. The doctor then considers your particular situation with the results of the test to guide the treatment.
With skin testing, many medicines can block the formation of redness and swelling in the skin. These medicines include antihistamines such as Claritin, Loratadine, Allegra, Zyrtec, or Benadryl. Antihistamines need to be avoided for several days to a week before skin testing can be done accurately. If it is important to you to have allergy testing done on the day of the first appointment, calling ahead to ask when you should stop your medicine may help facilitate this. Regardless, we will give you specific instructions for your situation at the appointment.
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What Testing is Done for Asthma?
Some people with asthma need to have what is known as pulmonary function testing. Pulmonary function testing involves breathing into a device so your airflow can be measured by the computer. The doctor uses this information to diagnose asthma, or to follow how well asthma treatment is doing. Inhaled medicines such as Albuterol, Advair, Serevent, Combivent, Atrovent, or Xopenex can interfere with the results of this test. If you have taken these medicines on the day of the first appointment, future testing may be arranged.
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What Testing is Done for Sinusitis?
Testing for sinusitis, if needed, is variable from patient to patient. No special preparation is required if testing is done at the first appointment. The doctor will describe each test recommended for you.
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What Can I do Prior to the First Appointment to Get the Most Out of the Visit?
The first appointment is where much of the key collection of medical information is done. We ask that you fill out the questionnaire completely before coming to the appointment. We do this as we believe this is the best way to ensure your safety by having accurate and complete information, and to maximize the time available for the doctor to answer your questions.
The most important information we collect is about the medicine you are currently taking, and some information about medicine you have taken in the past. We ask that you write down the name of all your medicines, including prescription medicines, over the counter medicines, and herbal medicines. It is most useful to you if we also know the exact dose of the medicine you are taking and how often it is taken. If you are taking medicine “as needed”, please note how often you are actually taking it. Often, we are not able to accurately judge what medicines you are taking by knowing the color of the pill, or even by having records from other physicians as many changes are often made after the original prescription.
If you have an allergy to medicine, as allergists we often find it helpful to know what reaction you had to the medicine, how long it lasted, and what else was going on while you were taking the medicine.
Some of the information we collect is to satisfy cumbersome regulatory requirements. If this information is complete prior to the appointment, we do not need to use your scheduled time with the doctor to do this required work.
Please be aware that for some types of allergies, such as long standing food or medication allergies, we are only able to give good medical advice if we concentrate on a small number of allergies. If you are concerned about more than three foods or medicines, we will serve you best if you decide ahead of time which three you are most concerned with. For respiratory allergies, we are able to evaluate many allergens at the same time.
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