Allergist in Elgin, IL diagnoses food allergy to tailor treatment plan
Allergies to food may seem more common today than they were when you were a child.
It’s estimated that for every three people, one has modified a diet because of a suspected food allergy. That may sound like an extremely common condition, but only around 5 percent of kids reportedly have “clinically proven” allergies to foods. In adults that figure is even lower, around 4 percent.
What accounts for the gulf between perceived food allergies and genuine, clinical conditions? Mayo Clinic believes such disconnect lies in an allergy mistakenly being blamed for symptoms that are actually caused by food intolerance.
Allergy or intolerance?
It’s easy to confuse an allergy to food with intolerance of said food.
Like other allergies, a true food allergy is an immune system response to a certain edible, often shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, or eggs.
Even a small amount of the food can trigger symptoms ranging from mouth tingling and itching, hives or a rash, and facial swelling to wheezing and congestion, stomach pain and vomiting, and lightheadedness.
Even more troubling, exposure to a food in some allergic people can trigger anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction whereby the airways tighten, the throat swells, blood pressure plummets, pulse races and the sufferer may pass out.
Intolerance, on the other hand, is generally less serious and limited to digestive conditions.
Intolerance to a food (commonly dairy, wheat, gluten, yeast, or alcohol) may still mean you can consume at least some of the food without debilitating or, as is the case with severe allergies, deadly effects.
You may also be able to prevent a reaction by consuming, for example, lactose-free, soy, almond or rice milk, or avoiding consumption of a food or drink altogether.
While some symptoms of intolerance may be similar to allergies (such as stomach pain and diarrhea), this condition is generally exclusively centered on the GI tract, and it includes:
- Irritation, nervousness
As a board-certified allergist team at Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates and Food Allergy Center of Illinois, we can identify if what ails you is a true food allergy or an intolerance.
The sooner we identify the true nature of your symptoms, the sooner you can feel better by adhering to a customized treatment plan that may include the following:
- Avoidance where possible
- OTC or prescribed antihistamines for minor symptoms
- An EpiPen (epinephrine injector) for severe symptoms
- Oral immunotherapy
Immunotherapy involves small doses of a trigger food (in those with allergies) being swallowed or placed under the tongue. The dose of this food extract is gradually increased until a “maintenance” phase is reached, whereby dosing is reduced to every two to four weeks versus every week or every other week. By introducing a very small, measured part of the food to you, your immune system will eventually grow to tolerate it and the immune system’s hyperactive response to the food will be suppressed.
Don’t suffer with a food allergy. Allergist expertise can be found in Elgin IL at our office on Westfield Drive, behind the 1710 Randall Road Medical Office park.