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Can a Primary Care Doctor Treat My Allergies?

April 12, 2023

start with choosing the right doctor

People often think taking over-the-counter medicines to treat allergy symptoms without getting checked out further is good enough, but it may not be clear which allergens are to blame. Don’t let this be you!

When you have allergies or asthma, getting the best care starts with choosing the right doctor who can help you create the right treatment plan. Your primary care doctor, often a family practice doctor or internal medicine doctor, is usually the first stop. But, it’s important to receive specialized care for your allergies or asthma. 

What’s the difference between A Primary Care doctor and an Allergist?

A Family Practice doctor, also referred to as a primary care doctor, has completed a rigorous course of education and training to become a physician. These doctors treat a variety of issues that you or your child may have such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), kidney disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), high cholesterol, skin issues, and breathing problems brought on by conditions like asthma.

They also often do routine checkups like well-baby and child visits, health risk assessments, immunizations, and a variety of chronic health conditions. Primary care doctors often refer out to specialists, like an allergist, for health concerns that go beyond what they usually treat.

Since family doctors are usually members of the community, they also understand how environmental and socio-economic factors may be impacting their patients’ health. 

Your First Contact For Health Concerns

If you have a family practice, or primary care doctor, they are your first contact for health concerns and, if necessary, can help the patient get specialty care and/or hospital care.

Our specialized training helps you get better faster

An Allergist treats allergies, asthma, immunodeficiencies, and other related conditions exclusively.

He or she has received additional training, beyond that required of primary care doctors. Allergists, like family practice doctors, complete a 3-4 year residency in internal medicine, pediatrics or both. However, they then complete an additional 2 more years in the study of allergy and immunology. 

One of the main reasons to see a specialist of any kind is to learn more about your health problem, make sure it’s correctly diagnosed, and get expert advice on how to treat or manage it. That needs to be done by a doctor or therapist with more experience in that area. AllerVie Health allergists will work closely with your family practice doctor or primary care physician to make sure everyone on your care team knows what is being done to improve and maintain your health. 

Understanding What’s Causing Your Symptoms

Allergies are the most common long-term condition in the world. They can cause reactions that range from mildly annoying to life-threatening. In short, an allergy is when the immune system of the body inappropriately reacts to something harmless as if it were a threat. So, the immune system makes antibodies, which go to cells all over the body and cause them to release histamine, causing an allergic reaction. 

Woman outdoors next to flowers about to sneeze with a tissue paper in her hand
Treatment of allergies depends on the patient’s specific allergy or allergies. There are no known cures for the various allergies, but there are a range of treatments that can address and make allergy symptoms better. 

How Allergies Are Diagnosed

Diagnosing an allergy requires an allergist. They will listen to your medical history, conduct a physical exam, and then administer specific tests based on which allergy is suspected.

Know When to See an Allergist

Any patient who experiences chronic allergy symptoms should see an allergist. Patients should also seek out the care of an allergist when allergy symptoms interfere with their quality of life or when seasonal allergy symptoms are present several months out of the year. Common, recurring symptoms that you can experience can include:

  • Coughing
  • Head and nose congestion
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Rashes
  • Shortness of breath

Asthma vs Cold vs Bronchitis

The symptoms of asthma, colds and bronchitis can be very similar, and it can be difficult to know which type of doctor to go see. Asthma is typically more chronic than the others and can be triggered by allergens, airway irritants like smoke, and infections. Because the differences between these conditions can be subtle, it is often helpful to see a specialist to tell the difference between them. AllerVie Health allergists are able to accurately diagnose these for you and provide treatments that go above and beyond what a primary care doctor can do.

Our allergists treat allergies, asthma, and related conditions. They also have the equipment and capabilities to perform tests used to diagnose these conditions and then are able to develop treatment plans based on the results. 

The path to becoming a Family Practice Doctor vs an Allergist

Family Practice
Bachelors Degree – (4 Years)
Successful Completion of Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
Medical School (4 Years)
Residency (3 Years) – Family Practice
Fellowship is not required.
American Board of Family Medicine Certification or American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians Certification Optional
Bachelors Degree – (4 Years)
Successful Completion of Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
Medical School (4 Years)
Residency (3-4 Years) – Internal Medicine and/or Pediatrics
Fellowship is required (2 Years) – Allergy
American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and/or Pediatrics (ABP)
American Board of Allergy (ABAI) Certification

What does it mean to be “Board Certified?”

Board certification indicates that the doctor is an expert in their field. Not all doctors are board certified and there are different boards for different specialties. Board certification is not a one-time accomplishment. After passing the initial exam, it becomes an ongoing process of continuing education for a doctor to maintain board certification status. 

All of AllerVie’s physician providers are board certified by the American Board of Allergy (ABAI). 

“ABAI certification also assures that the physician possesses the knowledge, skills, and experience requisite to the provision of high-quality patient care in allergy and immunology. The ABAI believes that all allergists/immunologists should have a fundamental knowledge of the biological science basic to this discipline, and that ABAI is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the standards of knowledge required for certification.”


Michael Polcari, MD
Medically Reviewed By: Michael Polcari, MD
Reviewed on: Feb. 15, 2023

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Get Help Managing Your Allergy Symptoms

One of the main reasons to see a specialist is to learn more about your health problem, make sure it’s correctly diagnosed, and get expert advice on how to treat or manage it.

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