Who Treats Allergies?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: September 2022 | Last updated: November 2022

You may think that any doctor can treat allergies. However, this is not always the case. A family doctor, pediatrician, or internist may be able to help with mild allergies. However, you may need to see a specialist if you:

  • Do not know what you are allergic to
  • Have severe allergies
  • Have symptoms that interfere with school or work

The type of specialist you see depends on the type of allergy you have. Some people may even need to see several doctors to diagnose, treat, and manage their allergies.

The main types of doctors who diagnose and treat allergies include:1-3

  • Primary care doctor, family doctor, pediatrician, or internist for a basic diagnosis
  • Allergist for all allergies

Other types of doctors who may diagnose and treat an allergy include:4-8

  • Otolaryngologist for allergies affecting the ear, nose, and throat
  • Pulmonologist for allergies that affect breathing
  • Ophthalmologist for eye allergies
  • Gastroenterologist for food allergies
  • Dermatologist for skin allergies

Primary care doctor

A primary care physician (PCP) is a doctor who practices general medicine. This is usually the first place many people go for healthcare. PCPs can be doctors, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants. PCPs also include family doctors, pediatricians, and internists.1

PCPs may make a general diagnosis of allergies and suggest standard treatments. They will refer you to a specialist if you cannot find relief with basic treatments or if they need help diagnosing your allergy.

Allergist

An allergist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating asthma and allergies. They also help prevent and treat allergy symptoms. Allergists may specialize in treating children, adults, or both.3

Their training includes 4 years of medical school and a 3-year residency in pediatrics or internal medicine. After this, they complete 2 to 3 more years of in-depth training in allergies and asthma. To prove their expertise, they must pass a test to be certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.3

Other doctors who diagnose and treat allergies

An otolaryngologist is also called an ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor. Within the field of otolaryngology, there are specialists called otolaryngic allergists, or ENT allergists. These doctors diagnose and treat disorders of the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck. This includes allergies and disorders of the upper respiratory system. An ENT specialist also helps with chronic sinus issues. They can look in the nose with a special camera (scope). They also perform sinus surgeries.4

A pulmonologist is a doctor who specializes in breathing issues. If your allergies are making it hard to breathe or damaging your lungs, you may be referred to a pulmonologist.5

An ophthalmologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats vision problems and eye disease. If your allergies are causing watery, itchy, red, or burning eyes, you may go see your eye doctor first. Your ophthalmologist may be able to treat your allergies. They may also refer you to an allergist to diagnose exactly what you are allergic to.6

A gastroenterologist (GI) is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions that impact the digestive system. If a food is causing stomach pains, diarrhea, or vomiting, you may reach out to a GI first. They may be able to diagnose your food allergy, or they may need to refer you to an allergist to figure out exactly which foods are causing your problems.7

A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating skin conditions. If you have eczema or itchy skin, you may see either an allergist or dermatologist. Some cases of hives or allergic skin conditions may require a biopsy, which is done by a dermatologist.8

Other members of an allergy care team

Along with your PCP, allergist, or other doctor, there may be many other health providers involved in your care. This includes allergy technicians who help with allergy testing, nurse practitioners, and more. You may be referred to an audiologist if allergies are affecting your hearing.

It takes a team to provide allergy care, and many people will be working with you to manage your symptoms.

Things to consider

If your allergies are not well-managed or you feel you need a more clear diagnosis, it may be time to see an allergist. Once you have a diagnosis, your allergist may manage your treatment. They may also work with your PCP to help treat you. Talk to your allergist and PCP about the best approach for you.

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