The first step to working with your doctor is to be sure he or she has all the information needed to treat your allergies effectively. Use these seven strategies before, during and after all your doctor visits:
- Keep a detailed journal of your symptoms and share the information with your doctor.
- Prepare a written list of questions before each doctor’s appointment.
- Learn everything you can about the different kinds of allergy medications and their side effects, including antihistamines, decongestants, saline drops and corticosteroid nasal sprays.
- Tell your doctor which medications you currently take (and have taken in the past) and how well they work. Report any side effects, and include in your discussion the doses and time of day you take your meds.
- Be honest if you're inconsistent about taking your meds, or if you frequently switch from one allergy medication to another. Ask your doctor how long you should stick to a particular treatment before deciding it is -- or isn't -- working for you.
- Ask about other treatments, such as immunotherapy (allergy shots), trigger-avoidance strategies, alternative therapies and self-care techniques.
- Also ask whether you need allergy testing (or retesting) to more accurately pinpoint your triggers and to help your doctor determine the appropriate medication.
Once your doctor tailors a new regimen for you, follow it to the letter and maintain your symptom diary. If after a time the new plan isn't working, ask your doctor to adjust it again. It may take a bit of trial and error before you find the right combination of medication, self-care and trigger-avoidance strategies to fully relieve your allergy symptoms.