There are around 15 million people in the United States that suffer from some type of food allergy. When a parent finds out that their child might fit into this group – there is often concern. At the first indication of a food allergy, a provider will generally determine that the child needs to undergo an allergy test. Based on the results of this testing, a proper diagnosis can be formulated. Here are some important things to keep in mind as your child undergoes this process.
Skin Prick Testing
The most common form of testing is the skin prick test. A small droplet of the allergen is placed on the skin and a needle-like tool is then used to prick the skin and allow the allergen to seep inside and penetrate for several minutes. At the end of this period, the provider examines the skin to look for any redness, bumps, itching, or other reactions to determine a positive result. The patient must not have any antihistamines in their system for the test to be accurate.
Blood tests monitor the blood's immunoglobulin levels when exposed to certain allergens. This is the preferred method of testing for individuals who have skin conditions like eczema or who have antihistamines in their body, as these concerns can alter the outcome of a skin prick test. This method does come with some concerns. False positives are common and you have to wait several days for results.
This form of testing begins with the patient consuming a very small amount of said allergen. Over a predetermined period of time, the amount of consumption is increased. During the duration of the testing, which is typically several hours, the child must remain in the office so that the medical team can closely monitor their reaction. It's important to mention that this testing method is typically not utilized with foods that have caused an anaphylaxis type of reaction in the past.
Unfortunately, even after an allergy test, many parents are still left confused. This is especially the case when results of the test produce a negative result, but they've seen their child have a reaction when they consume certain foods. In order to understand this, it's important to understand that allergies and intolerance are two different things.
A true allergy must produce an immune related response, such as hives or a rash. Intolerance reactions typically generate non-immunologic responses, including constipation or other gastrological problems without any impact on the individual's immune system.
If you suspect your child has a food allergy, make sure you make testing a priority.