If you believe your child has a food allergy, but you are unsure about the type of allergy, then you should speak with an allergist who can complete tests to help determine the allergen. Testing may be completed in stages where different types of tests are administered and considered. Keep reading to learn about the different tests that can and will be arranged.
Allergy tests will start with the most basic ones first. Basic tests are either skin or blood tests, and these tests are typically quite reliable. Before the basic tests are completed, you will likely need to answer some questions about your child. These questions will help the allergist to figure out the type of allergy and its severity. For example, you may be asked about the types of symptoms that appear, when they appear after your child eats the food, and the types of foods that you think cause the issue. Also, the allergist may want to know how often the reaction occurs.
After the initial medical history is taken, the allergist may proceed to a skin test. Skin tests are common if the allergy is narrowed down to several different foods or types of foods. For example, you may think that your child is allergic to nuts or eggs. Testing may occur for these foods and a few others depending on when symptoms occur. For example, if your child becomes ill after eating a certain type of pastry, several of the ingredients in the pastry made need to be ruled out.
If you have been unable to narrow down the allergy, then a blood test may be completed where the allergist will look for certain protein markers in the blood that indicate that an allergy is present.
Sometimes allergy tests will be inconclusive or confusing. For example, the test may show an allergy to tree nuts, but you may notice no symptoms when your son or daughter eats these types of nuts. In this situation, a challenge test will be completed. The test involves your child eating the food in small and incremental amounts to see if a reaction does occur.
Challenge tests are safe, accurate, and oftentimes, a highly effective diagnostic tool to determine a food allergy. However, you should understand that the testing may take some time since allergic reactions may be delayed. For this reason, be prepared to spend several hours at the allergy office and also to make several appointments. The challenge tests are often completed over the course of several weeks.
To find out more, contact doctors at facilities like Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center PS.