For some food allergy sufferers, it can be quite easy to diagnose exactly which foods trigger a reaction because it is instantaneous. However, what happens when it is not so clear cut and dried? Typically, it depends on the type of symptoms you get as to which tests your doctor will perform to come to a definitive cause. There are five primary ways that your doctor will use to derive an answer.
In your very first appointment with the doctor regarding your probable food allergies, they will likely conduct a physical inspection and assessment of your body and overall health. In addition, the doctor and nurse will ask a series of questions about the overall health and genetic history of the family.
Next, the doctor will quiz you on the type of reactions you have had, when they began and what foods you consumed around the time you started noticing an allergic reaction. And because outside influences do play a part in some cases, you will likely be asked if there have been any environmental changes as well.
Sometimes known as a prick test, this scratch test is one of the easiest ways to test several probable allergens in a single doctor’s office visit. The doctor will likely use the skin on your back or the forearm to apply scratches with the allergens. If you show a positive sign that you are allergic, the scratch site will produce a bump or hive. When the scratch test does not show conclusive results, other testing will likely need to take place.
This type of testing, also called the RAST test by doctors, involves drawing blood. Your blood will be tested for the antibodies that are released by your body when it perceives an “attack” when you eat the problem foods. The RAST test is the next line of defense for conclusive allergy testing when the scratch test on the skin is inconclusive.
It is also prescribed when the doctors feel that the scratch test may be too risky for some patients. When the RAST test is positive, this proves to doctors that your body is producing the antibodies against that food allergen.
If there are several foods that are deemed the likely culprit and narrowing down the field is necessary, an elimination diet is prescribed. This diet is monitored by your doctor and starts with a basic eating plan of foods that are likely not the cause of your allergies. Over a certain time frame, different foods are added to gauge your body’s reaction to them.
The elimination diet can take quite a bit of time but it is effective and safer than other diagnostic tools. Plus, if other allergy tests are inconclusive, diet changes are the next step.
Hair of the Dog
Ok, it is not quite that term but the gist is that under a strict medical eye, you eat the very things that are suspected of causing the allergic reactions. Because of the possible risk factor in this move, this will likely take hours in a clinic or hospital just in case you should have a serious reaction that requires epinephrine, CPR or some other medical intervention.