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Food Allergies: To Test or Not to Test

By Julie Davis
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 14, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- About 5 percent of American children and 4 percent of adults have a food allergy, but many more are getting unnecessary testing.

Specific blood and skin prick tests can help detect food allergies. But the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends them only for people who've had immediate allergic reactions, have a certain type of inflammation of the esophagus, or have moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, which appears as a skin rash.

Testing isn't warranted for conditions like hay fever, mild dermatitis and hives that have no apparent cause.

If you suspect a food allergy, keep a log with these details about each food in question:

  • How many minutes after eating the food did symptoms start?
  • How much of the food did you eat before symptoms started?
  • Have you eaten this food before and had a reaction?
  • Do you always have a reaction with certain foods?
  • Does taking allergy medication, like an antihistamine, relieve symptoms?

Know the most common food allergens:

  • Eggs.
  • Milk.
  • Peanuts.
  • Tree nuts.
  • Wheat.
  • Shellfish.
  • Fish.
  • Soy.

Keep in mind that the only way to conclusively diagnose a food allergy is with an oral food challenge, a test that can put you at risk for a severe allergic reaction. So it must be done by an experienced health care professional.

Misdiagnosed allergies can lead to nutritional deficiencies, anxiety and high medical expenses. So talk to your doctor about other options, like keeping a food log, before you start the testing process.

When researchers evaluated people getting tested at one clinic, only one-third had a medical history that suggested food allergy testing was warranted, yet nearly half were already avoiding certain foods. When patients were looked at more closely, nearly 90 percent of those avoiding foods were able to put at least one of them back in their diet.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a comprehensive guide to diagnosing and managing food allergies.

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=730118

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
Hypersensitivity
Food Hypersensitivity
Communicable Diseases
Dermatitis
Exanthema
Adult
The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


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