Why refer your patients to an allergist?

Information for Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

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Overview

Board-certified allergists and their teams, which can include advanced practice providers and other practitioners, have specialized training and expertise in screening and treating patients for allergies, asthma and related conditions. Allergists diagnose and treat asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, atopic dermatitis, rashes and hives, as well as allergic reactions to inhalants, foods, insect stings, and drugs.

Unlike other clinicians, board-certified allergists are specially trained to find the source of allergies, asthma, and related symptoms and to provide effective, whole-body treatment. By referring your patients to an allergist and working closely with these clinicians, you can help your patients control or prevent their asthma or allergic reactions, get long-term solutions to their conditions, and improve their quality of life.

Use ACAAI's Find an Allergist Tool

Connect with an allergist near you.

When should your patient see an allergist?

When patients have frequent symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, rashes or hives, an allergist can help provide long-term solutions. The fact sheets below describe the most common scenarios in which an allergist can help your patients combat moderate to severe asthma as well as other allergic conditions and related symptoms. Download and share these fact sheets with your patients who have allergy and asthma symptoms – and help them get tested, get treated and get better.

Quick Facts

  • Allergists are trained in providing cutting-edge diagnostics and therapeutics such as allergy testing for inhalants, foods, insects, and drugs; oral immunotherapy for food allergies; and biologics for asthma, atopic dermatitis, and more.
  • Board-certified allergists and their teams, which can include advanced practice providers and other practitioners, are qualified to care for both children and adults.
  • Food allergies, asthma and hives are the most common allergy-related conditions seen in the emergency department. An allergist can help your patients manage these conditions and get specialized treatments that can provide long-term solutions.
  • Allergists are uniquely trained to provide diagnostic work-up and management of anaphylaxis.
  • Allergists don’t treat just the nose, lungs and airway; they treat allergic conditions that affect the whole body. An allergist can develop long-term treatment plans for combating your patients’ asthma or allergies and help you improve your patients’ quality of life.

FAQ

With their training and expertise, board-certified allergists will work with you to help your patients control their allergy and asthma symptoms. Read this FAQ to learn about how an allergist diagnoses and treats asthma and other allergic conditions, when to refer your patient to an allergist, how to find an allergist and more.

Allergists and their teams, which may include advanced practice providers who specialize in allergy and immunology, are trained and experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases and related conditions that affect the whole body. These include asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, atopic dermatitis, rashes, and hives, as well as allergic reactions to inhalants, foods, insect stings, and drugs.

Consider referring your patient to an allergist if:

  • Their allergies are causing chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion or breathing difficulties.
  • They are experiencing allergic rhinitis or other allergy symptoms during several months of the year.
  • Antihistamines and over-the-counter medications do not control their allergy symptoms, or these medications create additional side effects, such as drowsiness.
  • Their asthma or allergy symptoms are interfering with day-to-day activities.
  • Their asthma or allergies decrease their quality of life.
  • They are experiencing warning signs of serious asthma, such as –
    • Wheezing or coughing, especially at night or after exercise.
    • Shortness of breath or chest tightness.
    • Frequent asthma attacks despite taking asthma medication following an asthma diagnosis.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology offers a free Asthma and Allergy Symptom Test to help you determine when to refer patients with allergy and asthma symptoms to an allergist.

Allergists test for asthma with a spirometer. An allergist may also ask the patient to use an inhaler and then use the spirometer again so that the allergist can read the difference in results. Other testing methods — for asthma and for allergies to inhalants, foods, insect stings, and drugs — include skin tests, blood tests and chest X-rays.

Many effective medications are available for treating the different types of asthma. Most people with asthma need both quick-relief medications and long-term control medications. Immunotherapy and biologics can also be helpful.

For allergic asthma, effective treatment includes identifying allergens that trigger symptoms so that patients can avoid exposure, using drug therapies and developing an emergency action plan for severe attacks. 

An allergist will create an individualized plan for your patient that determines the most effective methods for keeping their asthma under control, based on their symptoms and lifestyle.

Allergists are trained in providing cutting-edge therapeutics. Effective allergy treatments and therapies include:

  • Subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapy.
  • Oral immunotherapy for some food allergies.
  • Biologics for asthma, atopic dermatitis, chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps, and chronic hives.
  • Medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, and steroids.

Board-certified allergists and their teams, which can include advanced practice providers and other practitioners, are qualified to care for both children and adults.

Use ACAAI’s Find an Allergist tool to locate an allergist in your area.

ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists, immunologists, and allied health professionals. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with other professionals toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and help patients achieve the best treatment outcomes.

Patient Stories

Meet patients who have received life-changing treatment and care from an allergist.

  • Go to Antonio and Alex P.

    Antonio and Alex P.

    Soncee Partida is eager to share how her family’s allergist changed their lives. Both her sons Antonio, 13, and Alex, 10 have asthma and allergies. “Their dad …

  • Go to Giselle R.

    Giselle R.

    As a musical theater major at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, 19-year-old Giselle spends her days singing, dancing and acting. Watching her perform, yo…


Amanda isn’t wheezing, and she’s sleeping at night now. Her asthma is under control, thanks to her allergist’s expertise and the use of a biologic. Watch this video to hear her story.

COVID-19 Resources

As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic linger, ACAAI provides patients and medical professionals, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants, up-to-date information about allergic reactions to vaccines, vaccine recommendations, resources, and treatments for asthma and allergies in the context of COVID-19.