About 8% of children and 3% of adults have life-threatening food allergies. There’s no cure for food allergies, but children sometimes outgrow them. If you have mild or severe reactions to certain foods, schedule an appointment online or call Sandra A. Ho, MD, an allergy, asthma, and immunology physician at Avant Allergy in Los Angeles, California, for allergy testing and treatment.
A food allergy is an immune system reaction in which your body identifies the food as harmful. Consuming tiny amounts of the food can trigger allergic reactions ranging from digestive problems to hives to difficulty breathing, and some people have allergies so severe they can’t even touch the substance. The most common food allergies include:
Many factors are considered before making a diagnosis, including:
At Avant Allergy, Dr. Ho reviews your family history of allergies and your symptoms, including which foods seem to trigger the allergic response.
Diagnosing food allergies involves ruling out potential other medical problems. The team at Avant Allergy completes a comprehensive exam to identify other medical concerns.
You’re asked to stop consuming suspected food allergens for a couple of weeks before introducing them back into your diet one at a time to determine whether the food causes symptoms. Elimination diets can indicate foods that cause symptoms, but can’t pinpoint whether it’s a true food allergy or sensitivity.
Asthma, allergy, and immunology specialists at Avant Allergy complete skin tests and blood tests to diagnose your food allergens. Dr. Ho places a tiny amount of the suspected allergen on your arm or back during a skin test, then pricks your skin to allow the substance under the skin surface. If you have a food allergy to the substance, your skin gets bumps. Dr. Ho also sends a blood sample to a medical laboratory to measure the immune system’s response to a variety of foods.
Food allergy symptoms range in severity, depending on the intensity of your allergy. Common food allergy symptoms include:
Many people with food allergies experience symptoms within minutes of consuming the allergen, but it’s possible to have an allergic reaction up to two hours after eating.
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening response to an allergen. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, constricted airways, increased pulse, and decreased blood pressure. You can become dizzy and lose consciousness. You must seek emergency medical treatment for anaphylaxis as it can lead to coma or death.
You can attempt to avoid foods that cause allergy symptoms after Avant Allergy diagnoses your food allergies. If you come into contact with your allergens, you may use antihistamines to reduce mild allergic reaction symptoms such as itching or hives. Dr. Ho prescribes epinephrine autoinjectors if you have severe allergies that cause anaphylaxis. The epinephrine stops anaphylaxis symptoms but you still need to call 911 or visit the emergency room as the symptoms can return.
If you experience food allergy symptoms, schedule an appointment online or call Avant Allergy for allergy testing and diagnosis.