According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated 8% of children in the United States. That’s 1 in 13 children, or about 2 students per classroom.” If your child is among this number, you’ll want to bring them to an expert allergist at Charleston ENT & Allergy for allergy testing to confirm their food allergies.
What Causes Allergies?
Your child’s immune system works to protect their body from diseases, viruses and infections. But if they have food allergies, their immune system mistakes harmless foods such as eggs, milk, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts from Food Lion in Kings Plaza as dangerous intruders. An allergic reaction and allergy symptoms occur when the body is exposed to one of these harmless substances, known as an allergen, and the immune system overreacts.
In order to fight off the intruder, their immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes their cells to release histamine. Histamine increases mucus production and triggers inflammation, which causes your allergy symptoms.
What Are the Signs of a Food Allergy?
Signs of a food allergy include:
- Itching or tingling in the mouth
- Raised, red rash (hives)
- Swelling of the face, mouth or throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain or diarrhea
In rare cases, a serious allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis can occur, causing symptoms such as:
- Swollen tongue
- Breathing difficulties
- Tight chest
- Trouble swallowing or speaking
Types of Allergy Tests
Below are some of the ways allergists test for food allergies in children.
- Symptom history. Some studies refer to a history of allergic reactions as the “cornerstone of diagnosis of food allergy.” Without a history of allergic reactions, it’s difficult to interpret other tests accurately. That said, there are tests that can be used in conjunction with taking a symptom history.
- Skin test. For this test, an allergist will prick the skin of your child’s forearm or back with several potential allergens, or they will place droplets of the allergens on their skin and scratch underneath it. If a raised bump called a wheal appears, your child is allergic to that food.
- Blood test. For this test, an allergist takes a small vial of blood from your child and tests it against suspected allergens to try and detect the presence of IgE antibodies.
- Food challenge test. One of the more effective tests entails your child being introduced to foods in an allergy clinic and closely monitored for a reaction by medical personnel.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an allergist, call Charleston ENT & Allergy today.