Medically reviewed on June 14, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Whether you have an egg allergy, wheat allergy, shellfish allergy, or peanut allergy, experiencing an adverse response to certain foods is far from uncommon.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology estimates that food allergies affect 1 in 10 American adults . While most food allergies appear in childhood, affecting between 4–6% of young children, around 15% of food allergies crop up later in life [2, 3].
Observing adverse health effects in response to a food agent is usually the first sign of a food allergy, but more subtle cues from the body may call for a more comprehensive food allergy assessment.
If you suspect you may have a food allergy but aren’t sure how to confirm it, food allergy testing can be an important step toward identifying allergens. In this article, we’ve outlined the three-step process for knowing whether you have a food allergy, so read on.
Do you get rashes after eating some peanuts? That's one of the most common peanut allergy symptoms. A common initial sign of a food allergy is experiencing physical changes following exposure to a certain type of food.
Food allergy symptoms exist on a continuum from mild to severe. Someone with an allergy to peaches, for instance, may experience a gentle swelling of the tongue and a mild itching at the back of the throat. However, people with a shellfish allergy—increasingly the most common and often serious food allergy—may experience acute symptoms, such as hives, vomiting, or even anaphylaxis, within minutes of ingesting a single oyster .
When taking note of any physical changes you may experience after exposure to certain foods, keep in mind that there’s a distinction between a food intolerance and a food allergy:
The body is a comprehensive organism, and each of its systems works in concert. For this reason, food allergy symptoms are likely to affect more than one system simultaneously.
There are typically four principal systems in play during a food-related allergic reaction :
Anaphylaxis is a rare but serious and potentially fatal food allergy reaction, which may result in vomiting, a swelling of the skin and airways, loss of consciousness, or even cardiac arrest . While anaphylaxis onset is typically acute, a biphasic anaphylactic reaction can occur up to 12 hours after the initial exposure to a food allergen .
Although life-threatening food allergies are rare, identifying them can help you understand your food triggers and reduce the risk of experiencing severe reactions.
The next step for confronting a suspected food allergy is to take a food allergy test.
IgE food allergy tests (like the Everlywell at-home Food Allergy Test) are not a diagnostic tool for food allergies. Rather, they offer a preliminary gauge of your IgE immune response to certain foods.
While everybody’s body contains IgE, people with food allergies have more active IgE antibodies than others. At-home food allergy tests are typically administered by taking a finger prick-sized blood sample and running it through a CLIA-certified laboratory.
The Everlywell Food Allergy Test tests 9 common food allergens, including:
If you want to discover which foods your body is reactive to, a food allergy test can be a reassuring first step in deciding whether to move forward with a diagnostic assessment.
For some, the allergy test is the end of the road: if their results demonstrate a strong immune response to a certain food, they eliminate it from their diet.
In some cases, however, you may want to graduate to the next stage of food allergy assessment: diagnostic testing.
Diagnostic food allergy testing may be necessary for people with serious food allergies. For instance, severe nut allergies can be particularly insidious given the prevalence of trace nuts in many common foods.
Because the process of food allergy testing can be a lengthy undertaking, it may be helpful to know what to expect before you book your first appointment. Food allergy testing usually involves four components :
Living with a food allergy often means making lifestyle adjustments to avert exposure to certain foods and ingredients. In addition, an allergist may recommend a treatment protocol to improve your overall quality of life.
Treatment plans for food allergies are highly contingent on the individual, their unique immune response, and the severity of their symptoms. To that end, treatment protocols tend to assume the following forms:
Although you may find it challenging to live with a food allergy, it can help to remember the bigger picture at hand: allergies are a sign that the body is doing its best to protect you from harm. By testing for food allergies, you can extend to your body the same care and protection.
With the Everlywell at-home Food Allergy Test, you can learn your IgE reactivity to common food allergens. If you receive test results indicating increased reactivity that may be connected with a food allergy, you will receive a call from a nurse to help with next steps.
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