Appropriate diagnosis and treatment of allergies requires specific IgE testing (either skin or blood tests) based on the patient’s clinical history. The use of other tests or methods to diagnose allergies is unproven and can lead to inappropriate diagnosis and treatment. Appropriate diagnosis and treatment is both cost effective and essential for optimal patient care.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Five Things Physicians and Patients Should QuestionDownload PDF
Don’t perform unproven diagnostic tests, such as immunoglobulin G (IgG) testing or an indiscriminate battery of immunoglobulin E (IgE) tests, in the evaluation of allergy.
Don’t order sinus computed tomography (CT) or indiscriminately prescribe antibiotics for uncomplicated acute rhinosinusitis.
Viral infections cause the majority of acute rhinosinusitis and only 0.5 percent to 2 percent progress to bacterial infections. Most acute rhinosinusitis resolves without treatment in two weeks. Uncomplicated acute rhinosinusitis is generally diagnosed clinically and does not require a sinus CT scan or other imaging. Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with uncomplicated acute rhinosinusitis who have mild illness and assurance of follow-up. If a decision is made to treat, amoxicillin should be first-line antibiotic treatment for most acute rhinosinsutis.
Don’t routinely do diagnostic testing in patients with chronic urticaria.
In the overwhelming majority of patients with chronic urticaria, a definite etiology is not identified. Limited laboratory testing may be warranted to exclude underlying causes. Targeted laboratory testing based on clinical suspicion is appropriate. Routine extensive testing is neither cost effective nor associated with improved clinical outcomes. Skin or serum-specific IgE testing for inhalants or foods is not indicated, unless there is a clear history implicating an allergen as a provoking or perpetuating factor for urticaria.
Don’t recommend replacement immunoglobulin therapy for recurrent infections unless impaired antibody responses to vaccines are demonstrated.
Immunoglobulin (gammaglobulin) replacement is expensive and does not improve outcomes unless there is impairment of antigen-specific IgG antibody responses to vaccine immunizations or natural infections. Low levels of immunoglobulins (isotypes or subclasses), without impaired antigen-specific IgG antibody responses, do not indicate a need for immunoglobulin replacement therapy. Exceptions include IgG levels <150mg/dl and genetically defined/suspected disorders. Measurement of IgG subclasses is not routinely useful in determining the need for immunoglobulin therapy. Selective IgA deficiency is not an indication for administration of immunoglobulin.
Don’t diagnose or manage asthma without spirometry.
Clinicians often rely solely upon symptoms when diagnosing and managing asthma, but these symptoms may be misleading and be from alternate causes. Therefore spirometry is essential to confirm the diagnosis in those patients who can perform this procedure. Recent guidelines highlight spirometry’s value in stratifying disease severity and monitoring control. History and physical exam alone may over- or under-estimate asthma control. Beyond the increased costs of care, repercussions of misdiagnosing asthma include delaying a correct diagnosis and treatment.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals, and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,500 members in the United States, Canada, and 60 other countries.
For more information or questions, please visit www.aaaai.org
How this list was created: The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) Executive Committee created a task force to lead work on Choosing Wisely consisting of board members, the AAAAI President and Secretary/Treasurer and AAAAI participants in the Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters. Through multiple society publications and notifications, AAAAI members were invited to offer feedback and recommend elements to be included in the list. A targeted email was also sent to an extended group of AAAAI leadership inviting them to participate.
The work group reviewed the submissions to ensure the best science in the specialty was included. Based on this additional members were recruited for their expertise. Suggested elements were considered for appropriateness, relevance to the core of the specialty, potential overuse of resources and opportunities to improve patient care. They were further refined to maximize impact and eliminate overlap, and then ranked in order of potential importance both for the specialty and for the public. Finally, the work group chose its top five recommendations which were then approved by the Executive Committee. AAAAI’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at www.aaaai.org.
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- Allergy tests: When you need them and when you don't
- IgG replacement therapy: When you need it...
- Spirometry for asthma: When you need it...
- Treating sinusitus: Don't rush to antibiotics
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