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Questions


Who is an Allergist?
Allergists are physicians who have completed two years of rigorous training in allergy called a fellowship.  This training is preceded by four years of medical school and three years of training in pediatrics or internal medicine.  An Allergist can be certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology after he or she has passed the exam given by this board.   This assures you that if your allergist is board certified, he or she has completed specialty training and passed this exam, assuring you the very best of allergy care.

What are the diseases that you treat
Allergists are trained to treat allergic and immunological diseases such as
Seasonal or Perennial allergic rhinitis (Hay Fever) Sinusitis
Bronchial Asthma
Eczema
Acute and chronic hives
Anaphylaxis
Recurrent infections
Stinging insect allergy
Contact Dermatitis to cosmetics, jewelry etc.
Poison Ivy
Drug allergy
Food allergy

What insurance plans do you accept?
We accept most insurance plans and belong to most HMO's. Please call our office if you have questions.

What are your office hours?

Tuesday:        8AM to 5PM
Wednesday:    8AM to 5PM
Thursday:      8AM to 5PM
Friday: 8AM to 5PM  
Saturday: 8AM to 12 Noon  (Every other Saturday) 

What can I expect on my first visit?
During your first visit, Dr. Sharma will sit down with you to obtain a detailed history. This will include information regarding your problem and your past medical history including any medications you may have taken, your family history and information about your home and work environment. He will then do a physical examination  followed by skin tests if necessary. Allergy testing is usually done on the forearm or in young children the back because it provides us with a large enough area of skin for the testing.

Extracts of various substances known to cause allergic reactions will be applied to your skin using a sterile plastic applicator which is then discarded. You will feel a pricking sensation but not pain while the test is being performed. After the testing is completed you will be asked to wait for approximately fifteen minutes. During this period, you may feel some areas of itching at the site of skin tests. This is caused by extracts to which you have an allergic reaction and may last from a few minutes to about an hour. The number and variety of skin tests is based on the history obtained from you. After reading and recording of the skin tests, some anti-itch crème may be applied  to your skin.

In some cases it may be necessary to perform further skin tests by the intradermal method. This involves the injection of a very small amount of allergy extract into the skin of your upper arm using a small needle.

After the testing is completed, Dr. Sharma will explain the results to you and will outline an individualized program of management, which may include one or more of the following.
Environmental control
Asthma and allergy education
The use of appropriate medications
Asthma action plan if necessary
Directions regarding proper use of inhalers or nebulizer and their care
Immunotherapy also known as allergy shots if necessary
Consultation with another specialist if necessary
In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain other tests such as a breathing test (pulmonary function test), X-rays or blood tests before a plan for managing your problem can be formulated.

 What medications do I need to stop before skin testing?
We ask that any medications containing antihistamines whether prescription or over the counter be stopped for at least 72 hours.
If you are taking tricyclic antidepressants these should be stopped for 72 hours.  Please check with our office when making an appointment.

What about the blood test for allergies?
Bood tests for allergies are also known as RAST tests.  Though reliable, the Academy of Allergy recommends skin testing over rast tests for the following reasons.
More reliable
Easily reproducible
Less expensive
Results available in 15 minutes
On occasion RAST tests may be preferable such as patients with a skin condition called dermatographia, or severe eczema.

Can small children be tested for allergies?
Yes, but skin testing may not be necessary in very young children (under 2 years)  In most cases only a limited number of skin tests are required in the very young.

What about allergy shots.  When are they necessary?
Decision to start allergy shots is an individualized process however the following criteria should be met
If allergy is proven based on history, physical exam and skin tests
If response to environmental control measures and appropriate medications is not satisfactory
If appropriate preferably standardized antigens are available
If patient understands risk versus benefits and has the commitment for time involved and is compliant
If physician giving allergy immunotherapy is trained and willing to treat anaphylactic reactions which may occur as a result of allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots)


What do I do in case of an emergency?
Dr. Sharma will help you develop a plan of action in case of medical emergencies.  Full coverage through an answering service is available.  Coverage by other physicians is provided when Dr. Sharma is away on vacation or meetings.


You are on staff at what hospitals?
Vassar Brothers Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie NY