Getting Tested for Food Allergies
Food allergies can cause a lot of problems
You could have food allergies and not realize it unless you have had a serious reaction to food, such as peanut products or tree nuts. Even with these foods, if your reaction was subtle, like a slight tingling in your mouth or you developed diarrhea later in the day, you may not associate these symptoms with the peanuts or tree nuts that you ate. The one way to know for sure if you have food allergies is to get tested by an allergist or immunologist. These doctors are specialists that are able to find the cause of your allergic reaction.
An allergist is a specialist who treats allergies
If you have had a serious reaction to peanuts or to tree nuts, you have probably been told to see an allergist as soon as possible. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction to only a few foods, and peanuts and tree nuts are two of them. If you have experienced this serious allergic reaction from a peanut allergy, your allergist will probably want to test you to see if you are also allergic to tree nuts.
According to the National Peanut Board, the most common food allergies are to cow's milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and crustacean shellfish.
Your allergist will probably test you to see if you are allergic to these foods
Pollen allergies can make a person very sick and miserable, but they are not a cause of death like anaphylaxis can be from peanuts or tree nuts. For this reason, if an allergy to these foods is suspected, your allergist will want to test you to see if you need to avoid foods that contain any kind of peanut product or nuts. There is no known cure for allergies to these, and children seldom outgrow their allergy to peanuts or tree nuts, although they do often outgrow allergies to milk, eggs, and other foods.
You will probably be told to stop taking antihistamines before your appointment for testing
People with allergies often take non-drowsy Benadryl or another antihistimine to prevent allergic reactions, but they are not effective in preventing life-threatening allergic reactions to peanuts or tree nuts.
When you arrive at the doctor's office for your appointment, you may be given one of several types of tests. If a peanut allergy is suspected, you may be injected with a tiny amount of peanut or nut under your skin. The medical staff will observe you, and if you are allergic you will be in a safe place where medication is available to treat you if your reaction is severe.
Other types of food allergy tests
The allergist may also draw a vial of blood that will be sent to a lab. If you are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, antibodies will be present in your blood. Antibodies are made by the body in response to the food that you are allergic to, and they are what causes allergy symptoms like a rash, hives, trouble breathing, wheezing, or other symptoms of a peanut or nut allergy.
Meet with your doctor for the results
You may discover what you are allergic to the day that you are tested, but you may need to wait a few weeks for your blood work to get back from the lab if you had a blood test. Your allergist or immunologist will tell you which foods to avoid, and you may be referred to a nutritionist or dietitian who can help you eliminate the foods that are causing a problem from your diet.
If you're allergic to peanuts, they are hidden in many different foods that you may not realize. You will also need to carry epinephrine with you wherever you go. It is medication that you can inject if you accidentally eat some food with peanuts or tree nuts in it.
Sign up for our newsletter and receive a free peanut-free snack guide.
Stay on top of your allergy with the latest news, lifestyle tips and recipes.