A food allergy is an immunological response to a food allergen after consuming it or being exposed to it – in other words, your body’s immune system misidentifies the food as a germ or foreign invader and tries to attack it, creating the allergic reaction. Common food allergens include milk, soy, wheat, eggs, shellfish, and nuts.
For many people who have a food allergy, even just a tiny amount of the allergen can cause an allergic response that is mild to severe. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening response to an allergen, and this can happen to those who have a food allergy, venom allergy (such as from a bee sting), or medication allergy. (Note that food intolerance is different than an allergy, as it can make you feel sick but will never induce anaphylaxis.)
Food allergies are difficult to determine without medical assistance by a professional allergist. Let’s talk about some of the signs of a food allergy, how it can be diagnosed, and where you can go in northeastern Illinois to see an experienced allergist who can efficiently diagnose your issue and provide a solution that works for you.
Signs You May Have a Food Allergy
You may have a food allergy if after being exposed to or consuming a certain food, you:
- Feel faint or lightheaded
- Experience swelling in your lips, face, tongue, or any other part of the body
- Feel an itchy or tingly sensation in the mouth
- Develop itchy skin
- Break out in hives
- Have a clogged or stuffy nose
- Have cramping abdominal pain
- Experience diarrhea
- Experience wheezing or have difficulty breathing
Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction to a food allergen and is a medical emergency. Call 911 if you experience a rapid pulse, a sensation of something in your throat that is making it hard to breathe, and/or blurry vision.
Diagnosing a Food Allergy
A food allergy test will help determine whether you have a food allergy or food intolerance, and precisely what food is causing the reaction:
- Be sure to provide a detailed list of your symptoms to the allergy doctor, including when and how the reaction occurs.
- Inform the physician of any past or existing allergies you have, and any allergies or asthma in your family medical history.
- Your allergy doctor may perform a skin prick test, which involves the physician placing a small amount of the suspected food allergen on the skin of the forearm to observe whether a reaction takes place.
- The doctor may ask you to consume a small amount of a certain food right there in the doctor’s office, under the supervision of the doctor, to observe whether a reaction occurs. Any severe reaction will be addressed immediately, usually via epinephrine injection.
- Another test is the immunoglobulin E (IgE) test, which measures the level of antibodies produced by the body when exposed to particular foods. A blood sample is collected and sent to a laboratory for testing.
Skilled Allergist in DuPage County and Will County
If you have had a mild reaction to a food in the past, keep in mind that past is not prologue when it comes to food allergies. A food allergy can develop suddenly during adulthood, or a previously mild reaction can become a severe allergic reaction.
Have our allergy doctors here at Oak Brook Allergists evaluate your condition and provide a clinical diagnosis. We will help you control your allergies so you can engage in the lifestyle you enjoy.
To schedule an appointment with a board-certified allergist on our medical team, call us today at (630) 574-0460 or fill out our convenient online request form now. We look forward to serving you at any of our locations in Downers Grove, Naperville, Elmhurst, and Plainfield.