Testing For Food Allergies

If you have had a reaction to a particular food or food ingredient it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are automatically allergic. This is a common misconception because in most cases, a reaction is caused by an intolerance to the food or an ingredient.

Food Intolerance versus Food Allergy

Skin Health Hub Food Allergies Testing For Food AllergiesThere is so much misunderstanding around identifying whether you have a food allergy, food intolerance and non-allergic food hypersensitivity. So, what is the difference?

A food allergy occurs when the immune system falsely identifies a particular food source (an allergen) as harmful to the body and attacks it. The body does this by releasing histamines and other chemicals which in turn cause the symptoms that we identify as allergic reactions.

Whereas other food disorders, such as food intolerances and non-allergic food hypersensitivities, do not involve the immune system’s release of the antibody immunoglobulin E (lgE) and are not life threatening.

While an allergic reaction is not related to the amount of food ingested, food intolerance is dose-dependence.

Testing For Food Allergies

Allergy tests are usually performed by an allergist, doctor or a trained nurse practitioner.

Prior to your consultation it will be easier if you have written down your eating habits and medications leading up to your symptoms and detailing which foods seem to have caused you concern. You will be asked if anyone in your family has a history of food allergies or any other allergies so you may need to contact family members prior to your appointment to clearly establish this information.

Testing will comprise of a combination of skin testing and blood testing. A scratch test is the most common skin test where the doctor or nurse will scratch your skin with a small amount of liquid extract of an allergen (food or pollen). After observing the skin over approximately 15 minutes, indication of an allergy will be confirmed if red, raised spots appear on the skins surface.

However, if you are allergic to several things it may not be immediately clear what triggers your allergic reactions. If this is the case, several different allergens will be needed to be tested on your skin.

Another test is a blood test where a blood sample is taken and sent to a medical laboratory for analysis. A blood test is performed to measure your immune system’s response to certain foods by identifying the amount of allergy-type antibodies in your bloodstream.

If the results are still unclear from both your skin prick and blood test, a food elimination program may be advised as a means of identifying which foods trigger an allergic reaction. You will be asked to write a food diary daily to list everything you eat and make note of any reactions you have to certain foods. This is crucial in determining your trigger foods.

In addition to this, your doctor may also scribe an elimination diet. You will be given a list of foods to avoid based on the finding from the initial prognosis by performing the skin tests, blood tests. These tests are essential to confirm or rule out allergies and will help you formulate ways for you to deal with your allergy condition going forward.

For more information on Diagnosis, Testing, And Treatment read our article on Food Allergies and Allergies.

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