Food Allergies – What You Should Know
There is no perfect test that can rule out or confirm a food allergy. The specialist conducting the food allergy testing has to consider various factors while diagnosing and before coming to a conclusion based on your test results.
What Should a Doctor Consider?
The doctor will ask you for a detailed history of the symptoms you’re experiencing. The kinds of food and how much you eat may cause the problems you encounter.
- Family History of Allergies
You’ll need to share your family’s history of allergies. Whether or not there is a member of your family that is experiencing these kinds of allergies.
- Physical Examination
The doctor will do a careful exam that excludes other medical problems and will aim at identifying the cause of your allergies.
- Skin Test
The doctor may recommend a skin test. An allergist will prick your skin and put a solution of a specific food – in small amounts. This test can be done on your forearm or even on your back.
A specialist will prick your skin using a needle and allow for a small amount of food substance beneath the skin’s surface.
If you are allergic to a specific substance tested, a reaction or raised bump will form. But remember, a positive reaction using this test may not be enough evidence that you’re allergic to that food.
- Blood Test
The other test that may verify whether you are allergic to a substance or not is a blood test. This test measures the response of your immune system to certain foods. It is done by measuring your allergy-related antibody called immunoglobulin.
When taking this test, a blood sample is collected and taken to the laboratory. Different foods will be tested to come to a conclusion of the food affecting you.
- Eliminating Diet
Sometimes, the doctor will request you to avoid certain suspected foods for a period of a week or more. Once the period is over, you have to add the food back to your diet, each one at a time.
This process helps in linking your symptoms with specific foods, but food elimination isn’t foolproof.
Unfortunately, an elimination method may not tell whether your food reaction is an allergy or food sensitivity. And if you had severe food reactions in the past, then an elimination diet may not be a safe option.
Oral Food Test
An oral food test is conducted in the doctor’s office. During this time, your healthcare provider provides you a smaller and increasing amount of food that’s suspected of causing your symptoms.
If you lack a reaction during the test, you can add that food back into your diet.
If you want to avoid an allergic reaction, your best option is to avoid foods that cause a negative reaction and symptoms.
You may put in the effort, but come across food causing you a negative reaction. Here are some of the treatment options, depending on the severity of the allergic reaction.
Minor Allergic Reaction
When you have a minor allergic reaction, prescribed antihistamines or other over-the-counter medication can help to reduce these symptoms. You can take these drugs after exposure to an allergy-causing food and help relieve the hives or itching.
The only problem with antihistamines is that they can’t help treat severe allergic reactions.
Severe Allergic Reactions
Severe allergic reactions require you to take an emergency injection that contains epinephrine, and may require a trip to the emergency room.
Most people who know they have allergies usually carry with them an epinephrine auto-injector. The device is usually a syringe and concealed needle injecting a single dose. You should press it against your thigh to ensure safe administration.
If your doctor has recommended you to use an epinephrine auto-injector. Consider the following:
- Understanding how you should use the auto-injector
The important thing is knowing how to use your auto-injector. Ensure even those close to you know how to administer the drug. That’s because, when in an emergency, these are the people who can save your life if the situation arises.
- Carry the Auto-injector Everywhere you go
When at work or traveling, it is a good idea to keep an extra auto-injector with you. If you are in the office, put it on your desk or in your car.
- Replace Your Epinephrine Before it Expires
The other essential thing you must keep in mind is noting the expiry date of your epinephrine. Before it expires, make sure to replace it. If you don’t do so, then it may not work as properly as expected.
Lifestyle and Home Allergy Remedies
If you are at home, you may come across food that might be causing an allergic reaction. The best thing for you to do, is to avoid the food that brings upon such symptoms.
Here are home remedies to consider:
Before consuming any food, particularly packed food, read the labels. Ensure the food doesn’t have any of the ingredients that may cause allergic reactions.
Besides, you may know what is in the food, but ensure you check the label. Sometimes, the ingredients can change.
All packed food must contain an explicit list where you can check for any allergens. Therefore, you can prevent such problems at home by picking food without allergens. Common sources of allergens include eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, shellfish, and fish.
If you Have Doubts, Say No
At social gatherings and restaurants, you’re more likely to eat allergy causing foods. But for most people, they might not be aware of the seriousness an allergic reaction may lead to. Remember, even a tiny amount you consume may trigger an allergic reaction.
If you suspect the food contains an ingredient you’re allergic to, don’t eat it! The food may cause you more problems than you expect.
You may not have a food allergy, but your friend, relative, or child might have one. So, ensure teachers, babysitters, or other caregivers understand their problem. They must ensure your child avoids eating allergy-causing food and what they can do if there is an emergency.
In addition, caregivers must understand the steps they have to take to prevent a reaction from occurring or spreading. These steps may include hand washing and cleaning the surfaces in contact.
The Final Word
Research on food allergy treatment is limited. Most people have tried these methods, and they are claiming that it has helped them. Therefore, if you have allergic reactions, consider the above tips.