Food allergies affect 32 million Americans. It's estimated that every three minutes, a food allergy sends someone to the emergency room.
If you suspect you have a food allergy, it's important to know just what you're allergic to, so you can take steps to avoid coming into contact with that food. Wondering what foods you should avoid?
To learn about your allergies, it's essential to undergo a food allergy test. This article will go over some food allergy basics and what you need to know about testing. Keep reading to learn more.
What Are Food Allergies?
Any food can cause an allergy response. Allergies can start in childhood or develop later in life. But, no matter the allergy, there's one commonality: food allergies are potentially life-threatening.
The severity of a food reaction varies. A mild reaction usually involves minor abdominal pain or hives. Severe reactions can cause low blood pressure, anaphylaxis, and loss of consciousness.
While there are no cures for food allergies, they may go away with time. It depends on several factors, including a person's health and exposure to the allergen. However, there are ways to monitor food allergies safely.
What Causes Food Allergies?
Food allergies occur when the immune system mistakes proteins found in food as a threat. As a result, chemicals are released throughout the body, which causes the symptoms of allergic reactions.
While nearly any food can cause a reaction, some are more common than others. For example, the most common food allergens in the United States include:
- Tree nuts
Even though we're aware of how food allergies happen, it's unclear why people develop allergies to certain food. Those with common food allergies tend to have other allergic conditions like asthma and eczema.
Doctors divide food allergies into three types. The categories are based on the symptoms, as well as when they occur.
The first type is IgE-mediate food allergies. This is the most common type, and it's triggered by the immune system producing immunoglobulin E. There is an increased risk of anaphylaxis with this type of allergy.
Next, we have non-IgE-mediated food allergies. The allergic reaction is caused by other cells in the immune system. Symptoms take hours to appear, as opposed to minutes.
The final type is mixed IgE and non-IgE-mediate food allergies. This is a combination of the two allergy types discussed above.
Signs and Symptoms of a Food Allergy
If you or someone you know has a food allergy, it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a reaction. This way, you can seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Within a few minutes or hours of eating a food you're allergic to, you're likely to experience:
- Abdominal pain
Depending on your degree of reaction and how familiar you are with treating your allergy, you may only need to take medication and follow up with your doctor.
With a severe allergy that causes anaphylaxis, emergency treatment is crucial. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can cause coma or death. Some of the signs include a drop in blood pressure, a rapid pulse, tightening of the airways, and loss of consciousness.
Types of Food Allergy Testing
There are several options when it comes to food allergy lab tests. You can decide what's best for you based on your doctor's opinion and your own experiences.
Oral Challenge Test
An allergist will give you small amounts of the food you suspect are causing your allergy. The food could be administered in an ingestible capsule or via injection. The allergist will watch you closely after administering the food and provide treatment if you react.
If you think you know what foods are causing allergic reactions, you can start eliminating them from your diet. Then, you start to add them back into your diet, one by one, to see if you react. This is not recommended if you are at risk for a severe allergic reaction.
Skin Prick Test
An allergist will put a small amount of the suspected food on your skin. Then, they will prick the skin with a needle to let the food enter your system. If you develop hives at the injection site, you're probably allergic.
While the other tests involve consuming or coming into contact with the food you may be allergic to; a blood test does not require you to experience an allergic reaction. Instead, a medical professional will take a blood sample for a food allergy lab test, usually from your arm, and test for IgE substances.
Food allergy test results usually come back within one to three days. From there, you and your doctor can plan a treatment course.
The Benefits of a Food Allergy Test
For optimal health, it's important to undergo food allergy testing if you are worried about allergic reactions. While there's no way to cure your allergy, you'll know what to eliminate from your diet, so you don't get sick.
You'll also be aware of the type of allergic reaction you have and what you need to do to manage it. For example, you can keep medication, like an EpiPen, on your person, or you'll know that you need to take a trip to the emergency room to avoid complications.
Order Your Test With Ulta Lab Tests
If you're looking for a fast, convenient, and private allergy test, Ulta Lab Tests has what you need. With our Food Allergy Profile, you can learn what your body is allergic to, so you can lead a healthier, happier life.
Not only are our results secure and confidential, but you don't need to worry about having insurance or a referral. We offer the lowest prices on lab tests and don’t require a physician’s referral.
Order our Food Allergy Profile to find out if you are one of the 15 common food allergies.