A food allergy is, no doubt, an utter nuisance. However, when it affects a vulnerable person in your home—such as your child—you will likely consider it a threat as well.
Children living with food allergies need special precautions to avoid an allergic reaction, which can cause distressing symptoms, such as nausea; vomiting; swelling of the face, mouth, or throat; and difficulty breathing or swallowing. It is, therefore, important to identify the exact cause of your child’s food allergy symptoms, so you can avoid giving your child the food or drink that contains the allergen.
Food allergy testing is an essential component in diagnosing allergies and in determining which specific food your child is allergic to. Depending on the type of food allergy being suspected, your allergist will perform the most appropriate test or a combination thereof and obtain a detailed clinical history of your child to confirm a diagnosis.
Let’s talk about the different types of food allergy testing and where to get them in Northeast Illinois.
Skin Prick Test
A skin prick test, also referred to as a puncture or a scratch test, detects immediate allergic reactions to as many as 50 various substances at once.
To perform a skin prick test, your allergist will place a tiny drop of a possible food allergen on your child’s skin, then lightly pricking or scratching the skin with a needle at the exact location of the drop. A positive result is marked by raised red, itchy bumps, indicating an allergic reaction to the food.
An allergic reaction to a skin prick test typically manifests within 15 to 20 minutes, although the redness can appear for several hours, even up to 48 hours after the allergy test.
The procedure is carried out in a safe environment and your child is closely monitored throughout.
Your allergist may order a blood test when a skin test can’t be done or if you have lingering suspicions about the exact cause of your child’s allergy symptoms after the skin test.
A blood test can gauge your child’s immune system’s response to certain foods by measuring the allergy-related antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE).
For this test, your allergist will draw a blood sample then send it to a medical laboratory, where different foods can be tested.
Elimination Diet Tests
An elimination diet is used for identifying whether or not certain foods may be causing your child’s symptoms or exacerbating them. Common culprits include eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts, and shellfish.
To perform an elimination diet test, your allergist will devise a weeklong diet plan that isolates certain foods that are suspected to trigger the symptoms. Your allergist will reintroduce them at a later time to test for an allergic reaction.Oral Food Challenge
If an elimination diet is too difficult to follow, your allergist may perform an oral food challenge instead. This involves giving a small amount of the suspected food to your child in a controlled setting to gauge an allergic reaction.
Pediatric Food Allergy Testing in Northeast Illinois
An allergic reaction can be scary. The feeling of not being able to breathe can stay with your child and even cause psychological trauma, in anticipation of another allergic reaction.
If you suspect that your child may have a food allergy, visit us at Oak Brook Allergists. Our board-certified allergists have a wealth of experience in accurately diagnosing and effectively treating allergy and asthma symptoms. We will right away perform the necessary food allergy tests to determine the exact cause of the symptoms, so we can create the appropriate treatment plan for your child.
To arrange a consultation with one of our allergists, call us at (630) 574-0460, or use our appointment request form.