What happens during food allergy tests?
What happens during food allergy tests? – The test may start with your allergist doing a physical exam and asking about your symptoms. After that, it will perform one or more of the following tests:
Oral challenge test.
During this test, your allergist will give you or your child small amounts of the food that is suspected of causing the allergy. The food can be given in a capsule or by injection. You will be watched closely to see if there is an allergic reaction. Your allergist will treat you right away if there is a reaction.
This is used to find which specific food or foods are causing the allergy. You will begin by removing all suspect foods from your or your child’s diet. He will then add the foods to the diet one at a time, looking for an allergic reaction. An elimination diet cannot show whether your reaction is due to a food allergy or a food sensitivity. An elimination diet is not recommended for anyone at risk of a severe allergic reaction.
Skin prick test.
During this test, your allergist or other provider will place a small amount of the suspected food on the skin of your forearm or back. They will then prick the skin with a needle to allow a small amount of food to get under the skin. If you have a red, itchy bump at the injection site, it usually means you have a food allergy.
This test looks for substances called IgE antibodies in the blood. IgE antibodies are produced in the immune system when it is exposed to a substance that causes allergies. During a blood test, a health professional will take a sample of blood from a vein in your arm with a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected in a test tube or vial. You may feel a slight sting when the needle goes in or out.
This usually takes less than five minutes.
Will I have to do anything to prepare for the exam?
You don’t need any special preparation for a food allergy test.
Is there any risk in the test?
An oral challenge test can cause a severe allergic reaction. That is why this test is only performed under the close supervision of an allergist.You may have an allergic reaction during an elimination diet. You should talk to your allergist about how to handle possible reactions.
A skin prick test can cause skin discomfort. If your skin is itchy or irritated after the test, your allergist may prescribe medication to relieve symptoms. In rare cases, a skin test can cause a serious reaction. Therefore, this test should also be performed under the close supervision of an allergist.
There is very little risk in having a blood test. You may have mild soreness or bruising where the needle was placed, but most symptoms go away quickly.
What do the results mean?
If the results show that you or your child has a food allergy, treatment is to avoid the food.
There is no cure for food allergies, but eliminating the food from your diet should prevent allergic reactions.
Avoiding foods that cause allergies may mean carefully reading the labels on packaged products. It also means that you must explain the allergy to anyone who prepares or serves food for you or your child. This includes people like servers, babysitters, teachers, and cafeteria workers. But even if you’re careful, you or your child can be accidentally exposed to food.
If you or your child is at risk of a severe allergic reaction, your allergist will prescribe an epinephrine device that you can use if you are accidentally exposed to food. You will be taught how to inject the device into your or your child’s thigh.If you have questions about your results and/or how to manage allergic complications, talk to your allergist.
Is there anything else I need to know about food allergy testing?
The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid the foods you are allergic to. But there are some new therapies that may help prevent a serious reaction if you are accidentally exposed to the food you are allergic to. These include:
Oral immunotherapy (ITO).
This involves eating a small amount of an allergy-causing food and gradually increasing the amount. The goal of this therapy is to increase the amount of food that can be eaten before causing an allergic response.Epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT). This is similar to OIT, but instead of eating a certain food, a protein from that food is administered through a skin patch. The patch laughs replace daily with increasing amounts of protein.
Both OIT and EPIT are always performed under close medical supervision. To learn more about these approaches, talk to your allergist.
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