What to Do When You Suspect You Have a Food Allergy

You notice that when you eat certain foods, you have a little constriction in your throat. You may even develop headaches shortly after eating. These (and more intense reactions) are signs of a food allergy and, while these allergies are not curable, you can be tested to see how sensitive you are to those foods. Then you can adapt your diet so you no longer have any discomfort after eating. Here is how food allergies are diagnosed and how to deal with those foods that give you a problem.

Allergy Testing

Two types of testing are done to determine what foods you are allergic to:

  • Skin Test. This test indicates to what class of foods you are allergic and to what degree. A small drop of liquid containing an extract of the food is placed on your skin. Your skin is then pricked with a needle under the drop. If allergic to the food, you'll begin to have a reaction in a few minutes. You could develop a small raised area or a red rash where you were tested.
  • Blood Test. Some skin conditions, such as psoriasis, prevent the skin test from being effective. A sample of blood is taken instead to test for the presence of a particular food allergen. When present in the blood, this indicates that your immune system has produced the antigen in response to an allergy to a particular food.

Challenge Testing

Your doctor may want you to do a challenge test to determine which precise foods you are allergic to and to what degree. For example, the skin or blood tests may show that you are allergic to dairy products. The challenge test may show that you can eat small quantities of cheese, but not drink cow's milk.

The test begins with you eating a very small quantity of the food in question and noting any reaction. Your doctor will have you increase the amount eaten each day until you begin to notice symptoms. You may continue this for several days with different foods until you know which foods give you a problem.

Food Allergy Treatment

There is no cure for a food allergy. The ways to deal with it include

  • medication to reduce or prevent uncomfortable side effects from eating a food.
  • avoiding the food completely in your diet.
  • limiting the amount you eat of a food to below the threshold where you begin to have symptoms.
  • use alternative foods where they are available.

As an example of this last action, you may be allergic to cow's milk, but find that you can consume goat milk or eat cheese made from goat milk. To learn more about this topic or to be tested for food allergies, contact a representative from a company like Allergy Asthma & Immunology Associates.