How to test for food allergies

May 10, 2010

An allergy is an abnormal immune system response that causes the affected area of the body to become inflamed and can cause more severe reactions such as anaphylactic shock. An allergy to a food or a type of food is associated with the immune system's reaction to a particular type of protein that is found in the food to which a person may be allergic. The only way to avoid a food allergy is to avoid consuming that type of food altogether. There is some medical intervention that could be used in the form of immune system therapy which aims to reduce the sensitivity of the immune system.

Food allergies produce various different symptoms. The dangerous type of allergy is the type that is associated with the immunoglobulin-E component of the immune system. Such allergies are known as immediate allergies and have symptoms that present themselves within the first hour of consumption of the allergen. Some allergies present symptoms within a few seconds of consumption. Symptoms are likely to be severe and can rapidly become a medical emergency situation. Such a reaction is likely to trigger off one or more symptoms including hives and itchy skin. Swelling of body tissue around the mouth, the face, the eyelids and the tongue can also occur. A dangerous type of swelling is one that occurs in the throat which may result in loss of respiratory capability which is a serious medical emergency. Another type of food allergy is one that affects the stomach and the intestinal system causing inflammation and irrigation in that area. This may be due to the allergens only being absorbed once they reach the stage of being digested.

Testing for food allergies should be done in an individual who has a history of allergic reactions which may be food related or non food related. Skin prick testing involves injecting a small amount of the suspected allergen under the skin surface and then monitoring the area for an inflammation type reaction. This amount of allergen is usually not enough to cause a full blown reaction in an individual unless the person is extremely hypersensitive to the allergen. A safer and sometimes more accurate form of testing is blood sample testing. This, however, takes more time to test than the skin test. One may also use the food challenge method which is by feeding a patient a pill containing the allergen and one that does not contain any allergen to see if the reaction is based on a physical problem or a psychological one.

Submitted by M T on May 10, 2010 at 02:25

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