Allergic reactions can develop a few minutes after you eat something that you're allergic to, leading to symptoms ranging from annoying to life-threatening. Food allergies are even scarier when you don't know which foods are responsible for the reaction. Here are three tests that allergists can use to diagnose your food allergies.
When you're exposed to an allergen, your body makes antibodies known as immunoglobulin E. Immunoglobulin E antibodies are unique to each type of allergen, so the antibodies created in response to shrimp are different than the ones that are created in response to peanuts. This uniqueness is why allergy blood tests are possible.
To perform this test, you'll need to get blood drawn. Your blood will be sent to a laboratory, and the laboratory will check your blood for the presence of various Immunoglobulin E antibodies. If antibodies are found, you'll be diagnosed with the associated allergy. You won't find out the results right away, but when the laboratory is done analyzing your blood, your allergist will call you to give you the results.
Skin prick tests
Skin prick tests are a fast way to find out what you're allergic to. The test is done in your allergist's office and you'll have the results within 30 minutes.
To perform this test, your allergist will drop an allergen-containing solution onto your skin and will then prick your skin with a needle. This allows the allergen to enter your skin. This may be repeated on different parts of your skin with additional allergens if your allergist wants to test multiple allergens at once.
You'll be monitored for signs of a reaction. If you react to an allergen, a red, itchy bump will develop at the prick site. False positives are fairly common, so this isn't definitive proof that you're allergic to a certain food, but it's a start.
Oral food challenges
During an oral food challenge, your allergist will have you eat a small quantity of a food that you might be allergic to. Your allergist will monitor you for signs of an allergic reaction after consuming the food. If no reaction occurs, you may need to repeat the oral food challenge with other possible food allergens.
This test can be performed when blood tests and skin prick tests are inconclusive. The benefit of the test is that you'll find out quickly whether or not you're allergic to a suspected food. The downside is that it's possible for you to have a serious allergic reaction to the food, but if that happens, You're in the safe hands of your allergist.
Food allergies are a big problem, especially when you don't know what foods are causing your reactions. Talk to an allergist to find out if any of these three tests are right for you. One company that may be able to meet your needs is Alaska Natural Health Solutions.