If you have food allergies, you’re not alone; according to a study published by Food Allergy Research and Education, the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to food allergy awareness, an estimated 32 million American adults are struggling with a food allergy of some kind. The study further revealed that this same condition also affects more than 5 million children. For those who are not familiar with food allergies, it is a condition that occurs when the immune system identifies certain foods as being potentially harmful to the body.
COMMON FOOD ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
The symptoms associated with food allergies can range from mild to moderate and usually occur within a few minutes or a few hours after consuming allergenic foods. That said, some of the most common allergenic foods include
- Peanut butter
- Tree nuts
While these foods are safe for most people to consume, they can trigger a variety of unpleasant symptoms for those with food allergies, some of which include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Nasal congestion
- A tingling sensation in the mouth
It is also worth noting that some individuals with food allergies can experience anaphylactic shock, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention. Along with other food allergy symptoms, anaphylactic shock can also cause the following:
- A rapid pulse
- A severe drop in blood pressure
- Swelling of the throat
DIAGNOSING FOOD ALLERGIES
If you develop any of the symptoms detailed in this article after eating certain foods, there is a good chance that you’re among the millions of Americans that have a food allergy; however, the only way to know for sure is to be seen by an allergist. During your appointment, your physician will ask about your allergic reactions after consuming certain foods. He or she will also inquire about your medical history before conducting a physical exam, which will provide some insights relative to your overall health. From there, your physician will perform 1 of 3 tests to confirm your symptoms are related to food allergies. These tests typically include one or more of the following:
Blood tests – Most physicians will use this test to determine whether or not an individual has IgE-mediated food allergies, which, coincidentally, are the leading cause of anaphylactic shock. If an individual has IgE-mediated food allergies, their immune system will produce IgE antibodies whenever they consume food that triggers an allergic response. These antibodies can be observed in the blood and typically indicate that the symptoms an individual is experiencing are linked to food allergies.
Skin prick tests – To perform this test, a physician will place a solution that contains a specific food allergen under a patient’s skin, typically the thin skin of the back or forearm. If hives or wheals, raised white bumps, appear on their skin, it usually indicates that they have food allergies. It is important to note that prick tests can sometimes be inconclusive. If that is the case, the physician will likely order additional tests.
Oral challenge tests – This test involves is one whereby a physician will instruct patients to ingest a capsule that contains a specific food allergen. The allergen might even be administered via injection. In either case, after the allergen is in the patient’s system, the physician will then look for obvious signs of an allergic reaction.
HOW AN ELIMINATION DIET CAN HELP TEST FOR FOOD ALLERGIES
Along with blood, oral challenge, and skin prick tests, an elimination diet can also help confirm whether or not an individual’s allergy symptoms are food-related. As the name might suggest, an elimination diet entails removing foods from your diet that you suspect may be contributing to your symptoms. Next, you will want to start adding these same foods back into your diet one at a time to see which ones, if any, are triggering an allergic reaction.
In summation, food allergies can have a significant impact on one’s health and overall quality of life, especially if they don’t know for sure that they have them. And in some cases, they may also be life-threatening. To learn more about food allergy tests or any of the other information covered in this article, you’re encouraged to speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable associates today. Call us now at 205-352-9141.