Food allergies and food intolerance is very common and affects almost all people at one point in their lives. It is very common for people to think they are allergic to something if they have a negative reaction to a food they have eaten. This is not always the case, as only six to eight percent of children and about three percent of adults have actually been diagnosed with a food allergy. Many people commonly mistake a food intolerance for an allergy. The difference is that food intolerance and food allergies have vast differences in the reaction of the immune system when the person eats the food.
Any type of food can cause a food allergy, but there are a select few that are more common. These common allergens are known as the big eight, and cause about ninety percent of food allergies. These foods include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat.
Most children will grow out of food allergies as they get older. The most common food reactions in children include milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat and soy. In adults, it is more common to see food allergies for peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, citrus fruits, and wheat.
There is no one specific test that is used to diagnose a food allergy. There are many different types of tests that doctors typically use to confirm a food allergy, and they may use more than one test to get an accurate diagnosis. Food allergy testing may include a thorough description of the individual’s food allergy symptoms as well as a family history of food allergies. A physical examination may also be done to identify any other medical problems. The doctor may ask the patient to keep a diary of what foods he or she eats and when a reaction to certain foods occurs.
A common test that is used for food allergy testing is a skin prick test. A skin prick test is done by placing the suspected food onto the skin, usually on the back or forearm. The skin is them pricked with a needle to allow the food to get underneath the skin. If the individual is indeed allergic to the substance, there will be some sort of reaction like a red bump. This does not necessarily mean that it is an allergic reaction though.
Eliminating the food from the diet for a week or two and then adding it back in to see if there is a reaction is a good way for doctors to see if there is a link. This method is not foolproof though, as psychological and physical factors may come into play and make the results inaccurate.
A blood test can also be used for food allergy testing. Blood tests will be able to measure the response of the immune system to certain foods. The amount of allergy antibodies in the patient’s bloodstream called imunoglobin E antibodies are measured during this blood test. The blood test is not always one hundred percent accurate though.
Doctors also sometimes conduct an oral food challenge where the patient is given a small amount of the suspected good. This test may be dangerous if the patient has a severe reaction to the food but also may be very effective.