Food allergies can be potentially very dangerous. While some people may only experience mild symptoms, such as digestive tract distress, others may have a serious life or death reaction, such as anaphylactic shock where their respiratory system is affected, and they can't breathe. Dealing effectively with food allergies requires knowing ahead of time what one is allergic to. This isn't something to play around with and take chances. Here's what you need to know about food allergies and their treatment:
Prepare For Your Appointment
If you have had a food reaction, write down exactly what you ate. Go back 24 hours or more; sometimes a reaction is delayed, and some foods are more likely to cause issues. It may not be the food you thought was the culprit. If possible, determine the ingredients if it was a processed product. You will also want to write down what symptoms you had, how soon after consumption they started, and what you did to cope with it.
Provide Your Medical History
Allergies often run in families. If you aren't certain of your medical history, ask your mother or another family member to enlighten you as to any common medical issues or allergies in your family. You may need to ask a few people to get an accurate picture from both sides of your genetic line. This s good information to have incorporated into your medical records.
What To Expect At Your Appointment
After the allergist has gone over recent events and your medical history, they will likely give you a brief physical examination just to rule out any other potential causes for the reaction.
Next, they will move on to the skin prick test. The allergist will have you lay on your stomach so he can apply common allergens to your back. Your skin will be pricked with a tiny needle, and then the substance will be applied. After a few minutes, if the area is raised or looks like a small welt, you have had a reaction. This doesn't necessarily mean you are allergic, but it does indicate an abnormal response.
Blood will then be drawn for further testing. The sample will be sent to a laboratory where they can look for immunoglobulin E (IgE), which is an allergy-related antibody. They test the suspect foods with your blood to see if it causes a positive reaction.
Your allergist will let you know if the allergy requires a simple antihistamine to control symptoms, or if it is a more serious condition and will require complete avoidance and the use of an epinephrine pen, which you can inject in emergency situations.
Check out a website like http://www.nwasthma.com for more information and assistance.