World Allergy Organization: Defining the Specialty

Defining the Specialty

Defining the Specialist

The specialty and practice of allergy and clinical immunology are based on the understanding and treatment of hypersensitivity and immune dysfunction as these relate to allergic diseases. Allergy / Immunology also covers allergic as well as primary and secondary immunodeficiency diseases and autoimmune diseases in some countries.

An Allergist / Immunologist is a physician specially trained to diagnose, treat, and manage allergy / asthma, and immunologic disorders including immunodeficiency and immune disregulation. The Allergist / Immunologist usually has completed both a specialized training period in Allergy and Immunology, and a prior period of training in Internal Medicine, Dermatology, Respirology, Otolaryngology, and/or Pediatrics. The training is based on the scientific discipline of Immunology and may range from basic science such as genetics and biochemistry through clinical translational science including trial design, biostatistics, ethics, and evidence-based medicine. Depending on national accreditation systems, diplomats usually will be recognized by certificates of specialized training in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, awarded by a governing board.

Training, experience and expertise on tolerance enable the Allergy / Immunology Specialist to manage a wide range of therapeutic interventions and manipulations for the treatment of people suffering from an allergic and immunologic disease. These range from specific immunotherapy (a form of acquired immune tolerance), to desensitization (a useful clinical tool for pharmacologic therapy in allergic subjects), to a wide variety of other therapeutic and management interventions including biotherapeutics and immunomodulation. The conditions treated by Allergy / Immunology Specialists can range from the very common to the very rare, and can span all ages and encompass a variety of organ systems representing the systemic nature of allergic immune responses.