At the Asthma & Allergy Physicians of Rhode Island clinics, we provide answers to some of your common questions.
What should I expect on my first visit?
On your first visit our doctors will evaluate you depending on your symptoms. We will take a medical history. You will be asked about your health, your symptoms and whether members of your family have asthma or allergies such as hay fever, hives or skin rashes like eczema. The doctor will want to know when symptoms occur, how often they happen and what seems to bring them on. The allergist will also ask about your work, home and eating habits to see if these can provide clues to help pinpoint your allergy. Our physicians will a do a physical exam and then we will schedule you for allergy tests to get to the bottom of cause.
How are some ways allergies are diagnosed?
Tests can be done for common allergens such as plant pollens, molds, dust mites, animal dander, insect stings and various foods such as peanuts, eggs, wheat, shellfish and milk. Testing also is available for some medicines, such as penicillin. There are two types of skin tests:
The prick test pricks the surface of the skin with a tiny amount of the allergen. The test is done on your back or the inside of your arms with several allergens tested at once. If you’re allergic, redness and swelling appear at the site of the prick.
The intradermal test injects the allergen with a very fine needle under the first few layers of the skin. This type of skin test may be used when the result of a prick test is not clear.
Allergy Blood Tests
Skin tests are more sensitive than blood tests, but an allergist might use a blood test to diagnose allergies if:
You’re taking a medicine that could interfere with allergy test results.
You have very sensitive skin or a serious skin condition.
You had a previous reaction to an allergen that suggested you were very sensitive and should avoid more exposure.
After drawing blood, the sample is sent to a lab to look for the antibodies of specific allergens that show if you have allergies. It takes a few days to receive blood test results.
No matter what type of allergy test is given, allergists are experts at selecting which allergens should be tested, reviewing the results, and helping you find the right treatment for relief.
I’ve been diagnosed, now what?
Once testing has been done and you have received your diagnosis with a follow up, we will explore options with you to decrease your symptoms such as Allergy shots.
How does allergy shots differ from drops?
Allergy shots, also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), have been a proven allergy treatment for more than 100 years. They are the only treatment that changes the immune system and prevents new allergies and asthma from developing.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a newer form of immunotherapy. Instead of injecting an allergen under the skin, small doses are administered under the tongue.
Allergy sufferers are typically allergic to more than one allergen. Shots can provide relief for more than one allergen, while SLIT treatments are limited to a single allergen. In addition, allergy shots have been proven effective in treating allergies to ragweed relatives like avocado, melon and some other fruits. It is unclear whether the new allergy tablets for ragweed will offer this protection.
There are pros and cons of these different forms of treatment. Your allergist can help your make good short- and long-term decisions.
What is a PFT?
Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are a group of tests that measure how well your lungs work. This includes how well you’re able to breathe and how effective your lungs are able to bring oxygen to the rest of your body.
Will my insurance cover shots or drops? Is there a code I can give to my insurance to find out If its covered?
Do you participate with Medicaid?
At this time we do not participate with Medicaid, but we accept Rhody Health, Neighborhood Health Plan, RIte Care and other publicly subsidized health care plans.
At what age can my child be tested for allergies?
Normally, babies aged 6 months or older, but your individual child would be evaluated and a determination would be made at that point.
Do I need a referral to be seen at Asthma and Allergy Physicians?
Some insurances DO require a referral. We ask you to please check with your insurance and obtain a referral (if needed) with your Primary doctor before your visit with us.
What are the signs or symptoms that I may have asthma?
The most common signs of asthma are:
- Coughing, especially at night, during exercise or when laughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound in your chest when breathing, especially when exhaling)
What do I do if I need a medication refill? My pharmacy said that I needed a Prior Auth. for my medication, what does that mean?
If you do need a refill, please call your pharmacy and they will send us a request; we will respond within 24 hours. Or you can call our office and leave a message. Prior authorization (PA) is a requirement that your physician obtains approval from your health insurance plan to prescribe a specific medication for you. PA is a technique for minimizing costs, wherein benefits are only paid if the medical care has been pre-approved by the insurance company. A PA request can take up to 4 days to obtain.
If you do not see the answer to your question above, please feel free to contact us.