Patients in Illinois ask an Allergist, “How are food allergies diagnosed?”
Allergic reactions to foods may present in various ways, including hives, rashes, intestinal discomfort, shortness of breath, anaphylaxis, or allergic rhinitis. The allergy occurs through two interactions of the immune system.
First, immunoglobulin E, (IgE) a form of protein that is referred to as an antibody circulates in the blood. For some individuals, this antibody will form in reaction to certain foods. This condition is generally inherited from parents, who may have experienced any form of allergy, including hay fever, asthma, or hives. When an individual eats an allergen food, the body forms excess amounts of the antibody, IgE, which is released and attaches to mast cells, specific cells that exist in all body tissue.
The second factor is the interaction of the antibody with the mast cells, which are commonly located in areas of the body that are susceptible to allergic reactions, such as skin, throat, nose, lungs, and stomach. The location of the mast cells will determine the type of allergic reaction symptoms. When the antibody attaches to the mast cell, chemicals such as histamine are released. If the interaction occurs with mast cells in the nose, throat, or ears, a respiratory or oral reaction may occur. If the chemicals are released in the gastrointestinal tract, the reaction may present as vomiting, pain, or diarrhoea. Skin mast cells often produce hives.
For patients who experience food allergies, identification of the allergy is critical. At Advanced Allergy and Asthma Associates, Dr. Noga Askenazi and her colleagues, Dr. Eugenia Hahn, specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and allergies, including allergies to foods, pets, insect bites, eye allergies, and allergic rhinitis.
Board-certified allergists, Drs. Askenazi, and Hahn, offer several diagnostic options, in three Illinois locations, to determine the food allergen, including:
- Skin testing – two methods of skin testing include a skin prick test, delivering results within minutes, or a skin patch test, performed over several days
- Bloodwork evaluation
- Oral challenge – a food challenge involves the patient consuming suspected food allergens under close supervision to effectively determine the cause of allergy
Patients who suffer from allergies or asthma can restore their quality of life by understanding and be treating their conditions. Advanced Allergy and Asthma Associates offices are located in Lake Barrington, Elgin, and Crystal Lake, Illinois. Appointments may be scheduled by phone at 847 888 8802 or online.