Many people struggle with problems related to food allergies. That is the main reason why there is such a great demand for food allergy testing. So what is the right approach to diagnosing food allergies? And what is the proper way to treat/manage them? Read on to learn more about the systematic approach to diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosis of allergies
When it comes to confirming or ruling out food allergies, there is really no perfect test. Instead, the diagnosis depends on several factors like;
The doctor considers the specific symptoms the patient is having. They look at those symptoms against the foods that seem to cause allergies.
Often, the patient should share the details of an immediate family member who has any sort of allergy.
This entails checking the patient’s body in a keen way. It helps in figuring out whether what is present is an allergy or something else.
This involves placing the suspected allergen food on the body. This may be on the forearm or back. Then a medic pricks the skin slightly, close to the spot with the suspected allergen. As a result, some of the suspected allergen seeps beneath the patient’s skin surface. In case there is a true allergy, some reaction (like a raised bump) establishes shortly. However, this test isn’t foolproof. By itself, it can’t conclusively confirm an allergy. So it is not the best food allergy test. But it helps somehow, in the broader context.
This looks for an allergy-related antibody known as an immunoglobulin (IgE). Thus the first step in this test entails having exposure to the suspected allergen. Then the medic draws a blood sample, to check for the immunoglobulin level in it. If exposure to the suspect allergen raises IgE levels, there may be a true allergy.
The elimination diets
There are three major steps here. The first is identifying the suspected allergen foods. Second, is eliminating them from the diet for one or two weeks. The third step is reintroducing them after 1-2 weeks. Then watch for the reaction. It thus becomes possible to link whichever symptoms show up to particular foods. However, the test isn’t entirely foolproof.
The problem with the elimination diet testing is in lack of specificity. It can’t reveal whether what is playing out is an actual allergy or a simple case of food sensitivity. Moreover, it can prove unsafe for people who are prone to severe allergic reactions.
Oral food testing
These testing occur in doctors’ offices. At the outset, one gets small amounts of the suspected food. What then follows is careful observation of the reactions. If no symptoms show up, one has to take increasing amounts of that food. At some point, it becomes clear that it is a safe food for the patient. Now it is possible to repeat this until you get to the point of identifying or ruling out the probability of allergy to a particular food.
Treatment of allergies
The most reliable way to avoid allergic reactions is to refrain from the foods that trigger them. Sometimes though, exposure to such foods occurs, in spite of the best efforts to avoid it. What may follow is either a minor or severe allergic reaction. Here’s how to deal with them:
Treating a minor allergic reaction
The best thing to do in this regard is to take medications known as antihistamines. Usually, a minor allergic reaction causes symptoms like hives (raised skin bumps). It can also cause itching. These medications can help treat such. However, they are unsuitable for dealing with severer allergic reactions.
Treating a severe allergic reaction
Two things are necessary here. First is the administration of epinephrine. This should be by way of injection. And second, is getting to an emergency room as fast as possible. People prone to severe allergic reactions should always have epinephrine. They should carry it with them at all times. They and other people close to them should also know how to inject it the right way.
Experimental treatments for allergies
One experimental treatment currently under study is oral immunotherapy. This largely entails swallowing small amounts of the suspected allergen food. It can also be a matter of simply placing them under the tongue. Then one increases the amounts (dose) they swallow or put under the tongue in a gradual manner.
This is something that one should only do using oral immunotherapy drugs. An example is Palforzia, usable in the treatment of peanut allergies for children. However, there are limitations to the use of such medications. They can’t be given to a person with conditions like uncontrolled asthma.
Home remedies and lifestyle changes to manage allergies
There are some home remedies/lifestyle changes which can help in managing allergies. Before proceeding to take these measures, it is good to be sure that you actually have an allergy. This may entail finding private allergy testing near me and then going for the same. If it becomes clear that you truly have an allergy, use these strategies:
Stop making assumptions about food ingredients
Be sure to check food labels carefully. This is to ascertain that none of the ingredients you are allergic to are present. And this applies even to ‘familiar’ foods. Their ingredients may change with time.
Learn how to say ‘no thanks’ for foods that may contain the allergens
This applies even in restaurants and social gatherings. It is better to err on the side of being overcautious.
Inform the caregivers
This is particularly important for parents with kids who have allergies. Caregivers including teachers and babysitters need to be aware of the same. They should also know what to do in case of an emergency.
Preparing for an allergy-related doctor’s appointment
Here are the key things to do when preparing for this sort of appointment:
- Write down the specific symptoms you are struggling with
- List the tried medications for the condition
- Consider going with a relative or friend
- List the questions to ask the doctor
What you need to do in between now and the doctor’s appointment
In the meantime, it is important to avoid exposure to the suspected allergens. In case accidental exposure occurs, handle the subsequent reaction properly. If it is a minor reaction, you may take antihistamines. These should be purchasable over the counter. But if the exposure leads to a severe reaction, seek emergency care right away. That is especially if you start seeing signs of possible anaphylaxis.
Food allergies can be rather troublesome. Proper diagnosis helps in their management. To this end, you can search for food allergy testing near me or get in touch with Private Blood Tests London for the best services of allergy testing.