The Importance of Food Allergy Testing in a Modern World
Have you ever experienced an allergic reaction from eating a specific type of food? All of a sudden, your throat starts to itch and swell, or your body begins to break out in hives. These symptoms are enough to make you panic, and even the healthiest person can suffer from food allergies without even knowing.
Not only can this be a scary experience, especially if it has never happened before, but it could be potentially life-threatening. Some people can go their whole lives without even knowing that they are allergic to a specific type of food before these situations occur. However, it is easier than ever to get tested for food allergies with modern medicine and technology, preventing situations such as these from happening. Join us today as we discuss the importance of food allergy testing.
What Are Food Allergies?
Like with typical allergies, food allergies are your body’s immune system reacting to a particular food. This reaction or hypersensitivity is what causes your body to produce symptoms of an allergic reaction such as:
- abdominal pain
- itching/tingling lips and mouth
Did you know that food allergies can change throughout your life? That’s right! In some cases, if you are allergic to a specific type of food as a child, you may not be allergic to it anymore as an adult. However, it is best to get tested again as an adult because the allergies might not have resolved, so you should never assume. However, this is not typically common for those suffering from severe food allergies.
Statistics on Food Allergies
It is estimated that around 32 million Americans suffer from food allergies. Children account for approximately 5.6 million of this total number, and typically about 40% of them have more than one food allergy. The most common type of food allergy is shellfish which around 8.2 million people have. The least common is sesame which approximately 0.7 million people have. It’s also interesting to note that CDC data from reports collected from 1977 to 2011 showed that food allergies in children increased by a staggering 50% over the 34 years.
Common Types of Food Allergies
Yes, there is a decent list of common foods that many people who suffer from food allergies identify with. However, there is also a list of uncommon food allergies that people suffer from as well. Understanding your food allergies through an allergy test can help you eliminate these foods from your diet and steer clear of them when at gatherings or eating out. Here are some common food allergies such:
- tree nuts
Although we are all human, our bodies work in very different ways. Sometimes even common food allergies are okay with certain people; however, they can experience less common food allergies. A few uncommon food allergies are:
- citrus fruit
Spotting Allergy Symptoms
Although a person can go their whole lives without knowing they have a food allergy or sensitivity, it’s essential to know the signs of an allergic reaction in case this situation was to occur. This can also help prepare people to assist those suffering from an allergic reaction to seek help, potentially saving their lives.
The good thing is that many if not all of these symptoms that occur in an adult suffering from an allergic reaction are identical to that of a child going through the same situation. Here are a few less severe signs to keep an eye out for, such as:
- tingling or inching in or around the mouth
- hives or eczema
- swelling in parts of the face or body
- trouble breathing
- abdominal pain or diarrhea
Unfortunately, food allergy reactions can vary, which means that two people allergic to peanuts can have varying levels of an allergic reaction. Those who show more severe symptoms should seek medical help right away. These symptoms may include:
- constriction of the airways
- swollen throat
- shock/drop in blood pressure
- rapid pulse
- loss of consciousness
The number one best treatment for food allergies to make sure to avoid that trigger at all costs. Even if you do not have a severe allergic reaction, it is best to eliminate the food from your diet to ensure you are not exposed to the trigger. However, things happen, and when an allergic reaction does occur, it’s essential to know how to treat it right away. If you are experiencing a mild response to food, the best treatment is an over-the-counter antihistamine which can help reduce and relieve symptoms.
As we discussed previously, some people experience more severe allergic reactions. In these cases, the first step you should take is to seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible. If you carry an EpiPen on you, now would be the time to inject your body with this medication on your way to your nearest emergency room.
In today’s world of modern medicine, it is easier than ever to get tested for food allergies, and the importance of food allergy testing has also increased. Even if you don’t think you have allergies or hypersensitivity, it is always a good idea to get a test done if you can. Better to be safe than sorry. There are a few different ways in which these tests can be done, such as:
- blood test
- elimination diet
- skin test
During a blood test, the doctor will draw your blood and send it to a lab for testing. This test will look for antibodies within your blood for significant allergies.
This type of testing takes time and effort. The process involves removing certain foods from your diet over some time and then slowly adding them back to determine which food group is causing the allergy.
A skin test can be categorized into three different categories such as scratch test, intradermal tests, and patch tests. In short, they all work in the same way to determine potential food allergies. Your doctor will put the allergen, combined with a liquid, onto your skin through a small puncture during the test.
After some time, your doctor will evaluate these small punctures to look for any redness, swelling, itchiness, or hives that might occur. This will help your doctor see how your body reacts to these small doses of the allergen and determine your sensitivity.
With over 32 million people suffering from food allergies and hypersensitivity, it is more important than ever to be aware of what we are putting into our bodies, increasing the importance of food allergy testing. With proper testing, we can safely understand our food allergies and learn ways to treat and manage our symptoms. Becoming more aware of the symptoms of food allergies can not only save your life, but someone else’s as well. If you are looking for an allergy specialist in the Orlando area, our highly skilled and experienced team of allergists here at Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Associates of Central Florida are here waiting to help. Contact us to learn more about our allergy services and see how you can get a food allergy test today!