How Are Food Allergies Diagnosed?

How Are Food Allergies Diagnosed?

There’s a lot of confusion around food intolerances, sensitivities, and food allergies because they all cause uncomfortable symptoms. However, when you have a food allergy, your immune system triggers your response to what you ate, not your digestive system. 

While food sensitivities and intolerances can cause intense discomfort, the immune system’s role in food allergies can pose far more serious dangers. And, in severe cases, even put your life at risk. That’s why it’s crucial to determine if you are sensitive to a food or an allergy.

Our allergists at Advanced Allergy & Asthma in Ogden, Utah, have extensive experience diagnosing and treating allergies, including those involving food. If you think you have a food allergy, here’s how we can help reach a diagnosis.

Discuss your concerns

The first step in diagnosing food allergies involves talking about your concerns. To prepare in advance, it can help to keep a diary or notes about your reactions, for example:

You should also take notes on the symptoms you experienced in great detail.

Evaluate your symptoms

Next, we discuss your symptoms in detail. 

When you have a food sensitivity or intolerance, you usually have digestive issues like constipation, cramping, nausea, bloating, gas, or diarrhea. Since food allergies occur because of your immune system, they typically trigger very different symptoms, such as:

You can also experience anaphylaxis with severe food allergies — a life-threatening response that can cause coma or even death. If you ever have extreme changes in your pulse or blood pressure, lightheadedness, or difficulty breathing after eating, seek emergency care as soon as possible.

Discuss what you were eating

In addition to discussing your symptoms, we also closely review what you are eating. 

Any food can cause an allergy, but approximately 90% of all allergies stem from eight specific types, including:

It’s also common to have allergies to certain seeds, like mustard and sesame.

Perform allergy tests

If we suspect a food allergy could be behind your symptoms, we perform diagnostic testing to confirm our suspicions. The most common methods involve a skin test or a blood test.

We place a small amount of the suspected food on your arm or back during a skin test. Then, we prick or scratch your skin so a trace amount can penetrate the surface. If a reaction occurs to the substance, you could have an allergy.

We use blood tests to confirm allergies by measuring a specific antibody in your system, immunoglobulin E (IgE). When you have this type of allergy testing, we take a blood sample and use it to test suspicious foods. 

Suppose we confirm the presence of a food allergy. In that case, our team can help you learn how to navigate your diagnosis, including avoiding the allergen, eating at restaurants, and supplementing any lost nutrition, if needed. 

Finally, if you have a severe food allergy, we can also offer insight into injection kits to help you avoid serious complications if you contact the food.

To find out more about food allergies and testing, contact the Advanced Allergy & Asthma location nearest you to schedule an appointment today.

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