Diagnosis & Treatment Options
Nearly any food can cause an allergic reaction, but the “big 8,” dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soy, account for the vast majority. A vital component of the diagnostic process is a detailed medical history including information about suspected food allergy symptoms. Several testing methods round out the path to diagnosis. You may take one or more of these tests before learning the source(s) of your symptoms.
During skin testing, a small amount of liquid containing a suspected food allergen will be placed on your skin and then scratched, ensuring the liquid goes into the skin. After 15 or 20 minutes, the site will be inspected to see if a reddish, raised spot (called a wheal) has formed. If this reaction occurs, that indicates a food allergy may be present. Frequently, additional testing will be ordered.
With blood testing, a blood sample is sent off to be checked for immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which are what your immune system produces to battle an allergen. If enough of these antibodies to the tested food is in the blood, an allergy is very likely.
An oral food challenge may be recommended if skin and blood testing alone do not provide clear answers. In this test, gradually increasing amounts of food are given to a patient while they are monitored for symptoms. Due to the slight potential for a severe reaction to this test, it must take place in a medical facility under a physician’s supervision.
Once all of this information has been collected and analyzed, your Greater Austin Allergy specialist will provide a diagnosis and discuss allergen avoidance, as well as how to treat a reaction in case of accidental ingestion. We know food allergies can seem overwhelming and are here to answer your questions!