According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, about 32 million people have food allergies in the U.S. If you suspect you’re one of this number, it’s important to get a food allergy test so you know exactly what you’re reactive to and can eliminate it from your diet to prevent symptoms. We review everything you need to know about food allergy tests below.
What Causes a Food Allergy?
Your immune system works to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for people with food allergies, their immune system mistakes harmless foods such as milk, soy, wheat, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish as dangerous intruders. An allergic reaction occurs when your body is exposed to one of these harmless substances, known as an allergen, and your immune system overreacts.
To fight off the intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which tells your cells to release histamine. Histamine increases your mucus production and triggers inflammation; this is what causes your allergy symptoms.
What Food Allergy Tests Are Available?
Food allergy tests begin with your allergist performing a physical exam and asking you about your symptoms. Then they will perform one or more of the following tests:
- Oral challenge test. For this test, your allergist will give you a small amount of the food that is suspected to be causing your allergy, either in capsule or injection form. They’ll monitor you closely for a reaction and provide immediate treatment if you experience one.
- Elimination diet. During this test, you’ll eliminate all the suspected foods from your diet, then you can purchase them from the Grant Park Farmers Market and add them back slowly, one at a time. This test is not used if reactions are severe, however.
- Skin prick test. For this test, your allergist places a small amount of the suspected food on your forearm or back, then pricks the skin with a needle. If you develop a red, itchy bump called a wheal, it means you’re allergic.
- Blood test. With this test, your allergist is checking for IgE antibodies in the blood – the sign of an allergic reaction.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call ENT of Georgia North today.