What kind of doctor do you see for food allergies
How do doctors test for food allergies?
Doctors often use a combination of skin testing and blood testing to diagnose a food allergy.
One common skin test is a scratch test. For this test, a doctor or nurse will scratch the skin with a tiny bit of liquid extract of an allergen (such as pollen or food). Allergists generally do skin tests on a person’s forearm or back. The allergist then waits 15 minutes or so to see if reddish, raised spots (called wheals) form, indicating an allergy.
If the doctor thinks someone might be allergic to more than one thing — or if it’s not clear what’s triggering a person’s allergy — the allergist will probably skin test for several diverse allergens at the same time.
When a skin test shows up as positive with a certain food, that only means a person mightbe allergic to that food.
In these cases, doctors may desire to do additional testing.
To diagnose a food allergy for certain, an allergist might do a blood test in addition to skin testing. This involves taking a little blood sample to send to a laboratory for analysis. The lab checks the blood for IgE antibodies to specific foods. If enough IgE antibodies to a specific food arein the blood, it’s extremely likely that the person is allergic to it.
If the results of the skin and blood tests are still unclear, though, an allergist might do something called a food challenge.
During this test, the person is given gradually increasing amounts of the potential food allergen to eat while the doctor watches for symptoms.
Skin tests may itch for a while. If your childundergoes one, the allergist might give you an antihistamine or steroid cream for your kid to useafter the test to lessen the itching.
What is food allergy testing?
A food allergy is a condition that causes your immune system to treat a normally harmless type of food as if was a dangerous virus, bacteria, or other infectious agent. The immune system response to a food allergy ranges from mild rashes to abdominal pain to a life-threatening complication called anaphylactic shock.
Food allergies are more common in children than adults, affecting about 5 percent of children in the United States.
Numerous children outgrow their allergies as they get older. Almost 90 percent of every food allergies are caused by the following foods:
- Tree nuts (including almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cashews)
For some people, even the tiniest quantity of the allergy-causing food can trigger life-threatening symptoms. Of the foods listed above, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and fish generally cause the most serious allergic reactions.
Food allergy testing can discover out whether you or your kid has a food allergy.
If a food allergy is suspected, your primary care provider or your child’s provider will probably refer you to an allergist. An allergist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma.
Other names: IgE test, oral challenge test
Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?
You don’t need any special preparations for a food allergy test.
Why do I need food allergy testing?
You or your kid may need food allergy testing if you own certain risk factors and/or symptoms.
Risk factors for food allergies include having:
- A family history of food allergies
- Other food allergies
- Other types of allergies, such as hay fever or eczema
Symptoms of food allergies generally affect one or more of the following parts of the body:
- Skin. Skin symptoms include hives, tingling, itching, and redness.
In babies with food allergies, the first symptom is often a rash.
- Digestive system. Symptoms include abdominal pain, metallic taste in the mouth, and swelling and/or itching of the tongue.
- Respiratory system (includes your lungs, nose, and throat). Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, nasal congestion, trouble breathing, and tightness in the chest.
Anaphylactic shock is a severe allergic reaction that affects the entire body.
Symptoms may include those listed above, as well as:
- Pale skin
- Tightening of the airways and trouble breathing
- Rapid swelling of the tongue, lips, and/or throat
- Fast pulse
- Feeling faint
Symptoms can happen just seconds after someone is exposed to the allergic substance. Without quick medical treatment, anaphylactic shock can be fatal. If anaphylactic shock is suspected, you should call immediately.
If you or your kid is at risk for anaphylactic shock, your allergist may prescribe a little device you can use in an emergency. The device, which is called an auto-injector, delivers a dose of epinephrine, a medicine that slows below the allergic reaction.
You will still need to get medical assist after using the device.
What is it used for?
Food allergy testing is used to discover out if you or your kid has an allergy to a specific food. It may also be used to discover out whether you own a true allergy or, instead, a sensitivity to a food.
Food sensitivity, also called food intolerance, is often confused with a food allergy. The two conditions can own similar symptoms, but complications can be extremely different.
A food allergy is an immune system reaction that can affect organs throughout the body.
It can cause dangerous health conditions. Food sensitivity is generally much less serious. If you own a food sensitivity, your body can’t properly digest a certain food, or a food bothers your digestive system. Symptoms of food sensitivity are mostly limited to digestive problems such as abdominal pain, nausea, gas, and diarrhea.
Common food sensitivities include:
- MSG, an additive found in numerous foods
- Lactose, a type of sugar found in dairy products. It may be confused with a milk allergy.
- Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and other grains.
It is sometimes confused with a wheat allergy. Gluten sensitivity and wheat allergies are also diverse from celiac disease. In celiac disease, your immune system damages your little intestine when you eat gluten. Some of the digestive symptoms can be similar, but celiac disease is not a food sensitivity or a food allergy.
Are there any risks to the test?
An oral challenge test can cause a severe allergic reaction.
That’s why this test is only given under shut supervision by an allergist.
You may get an allergic reaction during an elimination diet. You should talk to your allergist about how to manage potential reactions.
A skin prick test can annoy the skin. If your skin is itchy or irritated after the test, your allergist may prescribe medicine to relieve the symptoms. In rare cases, a skin test can cause a severe reaction. So this test must also be done under shut supervision by an allergist.
There is extremely little risk to having a blood test.
You may own slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
What happens during food allergy testing?
The testing may start with your allergist performing a physical exam and asking about your symptoms. After that, he or she will act out one or more of the following tests:
- Skin prick test. During this test, your allergist or other provider will put a little quantity of the suspected food on the skin of your forearm or back.
He or she will then prick the skin with a needle to permit a tiny quantity of the food to get beneath the skin. If you get a red, itchy bump at the injection site, it generally means you are allergic to the food.
- Elimination diet. This is used to discover which specific food or foods is causing the allergy.
You’ll start by eliminating every suspected foods from your child’s or your diet. You will then add the foods back to the diet one at a time, looking for an allergic reaction. An elimination diet can’t show whether your reaction is due to a food allergy or a food sensitivity. An elimination diet is not recommended for anyone at risk for a severe allergic reaction.
- Oral challenge test. During this test, your allergist will give you or your kid little amounts of the food suspected of causing the allergy. The food may be given in a capsule or with an injection. You’ll be closely watched to see if there is an allergic reaction.
Your allergist will provide immediate treatment if there is a reaction.
- Blood test. This test checks for substances called IgE antibodies in the blood.
IgE antibodies are made in the immune system when you are exposed to an allergy-causing substance. During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a little needle. After the needle is inserted, a little quantity of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This generally takes less than five minutes.