Allergies can be extremely frustrating and annoying at times. They can wreak all kinds of havoc in your body and life. And food allergies are even worse because they can also be quite dangerous and life-threatening, particularly when un-diagnosed. When you begin to think you may have a particular food allergy, whether it be due to headaches after eating, stomach illness, or possibly even facial swelling or anaphylactic shock (an inability to breathe), you will need to get tested for food allergies. There are several different ways to determine whether or not you have food allergies and/or what you are allergic to. Learn the available options and find out what food allergies you suffer from sooner rather than later.
Self-Diagnosis Is Not Recommended
Many people are tempted to forgo going to the doctor for allergy testing. Instead they opt to diagnose their own food allergies based on their reaction following a meal. However, doctors do not recommend self-diagnosis of food allergies.The chances for misdiagnosis are high, which can lead to unnecessary food restrictions.
Additionally, the process of trying to diagnose yourself with food allergies can put yourself at unnecessary risk. If, for example, you try to eat peanuts to determine if you are indeed allergic, you run the risk of anaphylaxis and even death. Self-diagnosis, while possible, is a risky endeavor.
Skin testing is one of the most common methods of food allergy testing. When you go to the allergist, they will use either your back or arms for this procedure.
They will use a tiny needle to inject the allergens being tested just under the skin. After several minutes, the reaction will be clear. If you are allergic to a particular food, the injection site will become red, swollen, and itchy like a mosquito bite. The more severe the allergy, the larger the reaction.
If you are not allergic to a particular substance being tested, nothing will happen. Your allergist will then be able to give you a list of substances you have a definitive allergy to. However, this testing process is not foolproof. You may still be allergic to a substance that does not cause a noticeable skin test reaction, or you may not be allergic to a substance that caused a reaction.
Blood testing is another food allergy testing methods utilized by allergists. The blood drawn is tested for immunoglobulin E (IgE) for a particular food. IgE is an antibody which is the substance in the blood that causes an adverse allergic reaction.
Blood test results are not as instantaneous as the skin test results are. The results will not be available for several days.
Trial Food Restrictions
Once you have these initial food allergy tests run, your allergist will likely recommend trial restrictions of the foods that caused adverse allergic reactions. This is meant to determine if an allergy does, in fact, exist.
If you cease to have allergy symptoms following eating, then the food restriction will likely become a permanent part of your life. However, if issues persist, your allergist will reevaluate their initial diagnosis in order to find the true culprit.
The process of finding out whether or not you have food allergies can be a long and tedious process. However, knowing with certainty what foods you are allergic to can save your life and is extremely important. So, schedule your allergist appointment right away, such as at Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center, if you worry that you may have a particular food allergy.