Millions of Americans have allergies to common foods such as peanuts, dairy products, fish, wheat, sesame, soy and more. To determine which dietary choices you may react to, it is recommended to consult an allergy specialist. You can discuss your symptoms with a highly skilled provider and likely undergo allergy testing to help manage your symptoms and feel your best. Here is more on allergy testing and its benefits.
Do You Need Food Allergy Testing?
You should see an allergy specialist if you have experienced gastrointestinal, respiratory, skin, or other kinds of reactions after eating certain foods. For some people, reactions are relatively mild to moderate. However, for others, symptoms are what experts call anaphylactic and may include loss of consciousness and severe breathing and cardiac problems. These reactions most likely require emergency intervention.
Whichever the case, symptoms can be life-changing, and people need accurate information about what, and what not to eat. Food allergy testing with a board-certified specialist can deliver the information you need to manage symptoms and stay healthy.
How Do You Prepare For Food Allergy Testing?
After a consultation and review of symptoms with your allergist, you may undergo food allergy testing. To prepare for this important assessment, you should:
- Stop all allergy medications, such as antihistamines and antidepressants, as directed by your physician (typically up to one week before testing)
- Stop taking vitamins and supplements as directed
- Get a good night’s sleep before your appointment
- Stay well-hydrated
- Wear comfortable clothing with short sleeves
Most allergy testing appointments take an hour or more to complete. So, be prepared for some wait time.
What Kinds of Tests Are There, And How Do They Work?
Food allergy tests include:
- Skin prick tests – placing tiny amounts of possible allergens under the skin of the arm or back to produce a skin reaction to be evaluated by the physician
- Blood tests – involves drawing blood to determine your levels of IgE, or immunoglobulins, which increase when allergies are triggered
- Challenge tests – consuming a small amount of a suspect food to cause symptoms (fully monitored by the allergy team in case of severe reactions)
- Elimination tests – stopping suspect foods and gradually adding them back to the diet to see which one creates symptoms (usually takes two weeks to complete)
What Are The Benefits of Food Allergy Testing?
The biggest benefit of food allergy testing is the precise and relevant information it yields. With this information, your allergy doctor can:
- Prescribe medications, such as oral drugs, immunotherapy (allergy shots or sublingual medications) and avoidance strategies
- Help you identify places and times of possible exposure to allergens (school, family parties)
- Show you how to be aware of ingredients in your food choices
Food allergy testing can also be used to confirm that you are no longer allergic to a certain food. For instance, some children with peanut, milk or egg allergies outgrow them over time. Or older adults no longer react to foods they were highly allergic to in the past.
In short, allergy testing is a great diagnostic tool. Combined with your allergy doctor’s experience and expertise, you can expect to manage your symptoms, learn what foods to eat, and feel like yourself.
Food Allergy Testing Near You in Northeastern Illinois
At Oak Brook Allergists, our professional team values patient education as one of the best and most effective ways to manage food allergies. To learn more about food allergies and to see if food allergy testing could benefit you, call us for a consultation with one of our board -certified physicians at (630) 574-0460. You can also request a visit online We have locations in Plainfield, Downers Grove, Elmhurst and Naperville, IL.
We hope to see you soon!