Managing Your Health
- Starting to manage your health in your early teens is a great sign of growing independence and responsibility.
- Be open and honest with your doctor so that they can provide the best care and advice.
- Be prepared for your appointments by having a list of questions written down.
- Consider having some time with the doctor without mum or dad and then bring them in to the appointment from the waiting room as you/your doctor would like.
As a teenager, life is full of changes. A big change you will face, is taking more responsibility for your health. If you start taking responsibility for your allergy care in your early teens, you will feel more confident as you enter young adulthood.
There are many health care providers that can help you
- Your GP is the health care provider that generally oversees all your health care needs and provides referrals to other health care providers.
- An allergy specialist is the best person to confirm what you are allergic to and decide what allergy treatments will help you.
- Allergy dietitians can you help you to manage your food allergies. They can teach you how to read food labels and how to make safe food choices. They can also make sure you are getting all the nutrition you need and give recipe ideas and product information.
- You will usually see an allergy nurse in a public hospital, but some allergy specialists also have allergy nurses. Allergy nurses may do your skin testing and provide you with information about how to manage your allergies. If you are having allergen immunotherapy, an allergy nurse will usually give you this treatment.
- Clinical psychologists are really helpful if your allergies are stopping you from doing everyday activities. They can help you to manage your worries so that you can still to all the fun things that teens like to do.
- You may need to see a dermatologist for eczema if you are having trouble managing your eczema well.
- You may need to see a respiratory specialist for asthma if you are having trouble managing your asthma well.
Moving from child healthcare services to adult healthcare services
Teens usually move from child health services to adult services at between 15 and 18 years of age. It is normal to feel anxious about moving from paediatric to adult services. Your allergy specialist can advise when the time is right, and how to move from child-based allergy services to adult allergy services. To help you to make that change, they will provide you with a referral to your new adult specialist. They can also share your medical history with the new specialist, so that they can continue to provide the best advice and treatments for your allergies.
How to make the most of your health appointments
- It is a good idea to see the same GP where possible. This way the GP will get to know you and you are more likely to feel comfortable with someone you get to know as well.
- It is a good idea to start having the first part of your appointment with your doctor (GP or clinical immunology/allergy specialist) on your own from your early teens. Your parents can then join your appointment when you and the doctor and ready. It is normal as you get older and become an adult, for your parents to have less involvement with your appointments.
- Be open and honest with your doctor – they can help you more if they have all the information. It is good to talk to your doctor about how you are managing your allergies in everyday life. If you are feeling bothered, annoyed or overwhelmed, tell the doctor (or any other person caring for you). It is important you and your doctor find a way forward that works for you.
- Tell your doctor if you feel anxious about your allergies and if your allergies are stopping you from joining in on activities such as eating out, going to parties, or trying new foods if you have a food allergy.
- Have a list of questions written down to ask your doctor to help you remember them. We all get a little nervous in a medical appointment. It can also be a good idea to take notes when you see the doctor, as it’s easy to forget what they said.
- You should see your doctor at least every 12 to 18 months to replace any expired adrenaline injectors with new ones. Your doctor or pharmacist will explain what to do with the expired ones. Don’t forget to update your ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis. If you have not been prescribed an adrenaline injector, your doctor will note your date of next review on your ASCIA Action Plan for Allergic Reactions.
- You don’t have to wait for your next scheduled review if you are worried about your allergies. It’s important to see someone and talk about them. If you have had an allergic reaction or you think your allergies have changed, make an appointment to see your doctor.
- Different treatments are available for different allergies (such as allergen immunotherapy for allergies to dust mite, pollens and insect venoms). Talk to your doctor at each appointment about what possible treatments are available for your allergies, particularly if you have had difficulty managing your allergies.
- If you have asthma, it is important that your asthma is managed well, particularly if you are at risk of anaphylaxis. Make sure you discuss your asthma management with your doctor in case changes to medications are needed.
What should your doctor provide you with in an appointment?
If you are seeing your doctor for a scheduled review, you should be provided with the following:
- A prescription for 2 adrenaline injectors, if required.
- An updated ASCIA Action Plan completed and signed by your doctor. You just need to add your photo to it. Your doctor should talk you through the ASCIA Action Plan so that you know what an allergic reaction is and know when and how to use your adrenaline injector. Ideally your doctor should have a trainer device for you to practice with. It is helpful to have a trainer device at home so that you and other family members and friends can practice using the adrenaline injector (your parents can get trainers through the Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia shop [weblink]).
- Your doctor should also speak with you about the importance of not standing or walking when you have anaphylaxis.
- If you are seeing your GP, they should provide you with a referral to an allergy specialist if required.
You should also be provided with information about:
- how to avoid the things you are allergic to.
- how to use your medications if you have any.
- how to manage your asthma if you have asthma.
- patient support organisations where you can get more information and support.
You may want to take notes during your appointment as you may be given a lot of information.
My Health Record
Unless you or your parents opted out, you will have a My Health Record. There are a range of phone Apps that help you to access your My Health Record more easily. My Health Record helps you to keep track of your health.
For more information about how to access your My Health Record, the National Allergy Strategy has put together some information sheets – https://www.nationalallergystrategy.org.au/projects/australian-digital-health-agency/consumers