Four types of allergy tests can be used to reach the underlying cause of food allergies: skin prick test, blood test, elimination diet test, and oral food challenge. With that being said, there is no perfect test to confirm food allergy or rule out a food allergy.
Let’s discuss these food allergy tests and some factors allergists consider when choosing the right food allergy test.
Common Food Allergy Tests
The most commonly performed food energy tests are:
Skin Prick Test
For this,a small amount of suspected food is placed on the skin of the back or forearm. Your allergist will then prickyour skin with a needle to allow a small amount of the suspected substanceto cross the surface of your skin. A raised bump on the skin indicates a positive reaction to the test food allergen.
This test measures the response of the immune system to a particular substance by measuring theconcentration of immunoglobulin E antibodies. For this test, blood samples are taken and sent to the lab, where food testing is done and the amount of immunoglobulin E antibodies is measured. High IgE concentration in blood indicates a positive result.
Elimination Diet Test
For this test, your allergist will ask you to eliminate certain suspected foods from your diet for a week or two. Subsequently, you will be asked to add the food items back into your diet one by one. This will help link food allergy symptoms to specific foods.
Oral Food Challenge
This test is done in your doctor’s office, where you will be given a small but increasingamount of suspected food. If you develop a reaction to the food during the test, you will be asked to exclude the food from your diet.
Factors to Consider
When it comes to managing your food allergies and avoiding potential food allergy reactions, choosing the right food allergy test for you is an important step. It is recommended to consult with your allergist to make an informed decision.An allergist performs a comprehensive assessment before recommendingthe right food allergy test for you.
Some common factors that an allergist considers are as follows:
Medical History and Food Allergy Symptoms
Some symptoms might seem like allergies but could be due to a non-allergic cause. Therefore, an allergist will know the detailed medical history of your allergies. They will also ask you about the type and severity of the reactions and how much time it takes for symptoms to appear after consuming certain foods. They may also ask about family histories of asthma, allergies, and other conditions that could increase your risk of having food allergies.
The Severity of Allergic Reaction
The severity of your allergic reactions is also an important factor to consider when choosing the right food allergy test. It can vary widely from mild symptoms like hives to life-threatening anaphylaxis reactions.
For instance, for food allergy reactions like those of anaphylaxis reaction, your allergist will probably recommend a food allergy test such as an oral food challenge test in his office. During the test, the patient is continuously monitored for any signs of anaphylaxis. In the event of any concerning symptoms, the allergist provides immediate treatment, such as epinephrine if necessary.
Age of Patient
A patient’s age can also impact the choice of food allergy test. For example, some tests, such as skin prick tests, may not be accurate in elderly patients because skin reactivity declines with age. This is why a serum IgE test is recommended in elderly patients. Moreover, the skin prick test is also considered not suitable for children below the age of two years and pregnant women.
Benefits and Risks
Food allergy tests come with several benefits and risks. For instance, the oral food challenge test is the gold standard for diagnosing food allergies. However, this test also comes with the potential risk of allergic reactions. Similarly, a skin prick test can sometimes yield false positive results.
Your allergist will explain the risks and benefits of each test to you so that you can make an informed decision.
Food Allergy Testing in Northeast Illinois
At Oak Brook Allergists, our allergists are leading experts in diagnosing and treating many types of allergies, including food allergies. Our specialists will perform a comprehensive patient assessment and offer a wide range of diagnostic testing, including skin, blood, and food tests, to effectively diagnose the underlying cause of your food allergies. We also offer effective treatments, such as medications, oral immunotherapy, and allergy shots, to treat allergies in patients of all ages.