About diagnosing a food allergy
People who experience an adverse reaction to specific food items should schedule an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible. In many cases, food allergy symptoms can become more serious with time. It is better to err on the side of caution than to risk the potential of more severe symptoms in the future.
Physicians use a variety of diagnostic tests to accurately determine the underlying causes of food allergy or food intolerance symptoms. Assessing the history of your symptoms is important. Your doctor may ask you what types of foods usually trigger symptoms, how quickly symptoms occur after eating, and a number of additional questions that will help to determine the root cause of your symptoms.
Next, your doctor or dietitian may ask you to follow the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital elimination diet. This involves eliminating the type of food that your doctor suspects is causing an adverse reaction. This elimination diet offers a simple way to determine whether or not the food is actually causing symptoms. If the symptoms are alleviated by staying away from the food, the doctor is able to confirm their diagnosis.
To further test the diagnosis, your doctor may perform a series of blood tests, skin tests, and additional dietary changes. For example, a skin allergy test may involve placing a diluted extract of a suspected food item onto your skin followed by a small scratch on that portion of the skin. An adverse reaction such as redness or swelling is a sign of that an allergic reaction to that particular food does exist.
With a professional diagnosis, you can then move on with an appropriate treatment plan that may include medications or may simply involve avoiding the foods that you are allergic to. Your doctor will also help you to make the important distinction between whether you have a true allergy to a food or a food intolerance.
If you have questions about food allergy, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a dietitian and nutritionist.