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Specialty testing reveals the cause of food allergy symptoms

As a food allergy sufferer, you may relate to the annoying tingling or itching on the roof of your mouth. Your face may itch, or you may develop hives. Hopefully, you or a loved one haven’t experienced the super-scary symptoms – the swelling of the tongue and throat and constricted airways that can interfere with breathing. Anaphylactic shock is an emergency that can lead to low blood pressure, rapid pulse, and loss of consciousness.

Since some symptoms are shared between food allergies and food intolerances, these two conditions are often confused with each other and misdiagnosed.

Generally, food intolerance does not cause the severe symptoms that are associated with food allergies, especially allergies to:

  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts, almonds, and other tree nuts
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Salmon, tuna, and other fish
  • Shrimp, crab, and other shellfish

In fact, this short-list of foods is responsible for 90 percent of all food allergy-related reactions.

Generally, food intolerance is limited to digestive problems, comes on gradually, and may only happen when you eat the suspect food often or eat a lot of it. In contrast, food allergies can come on quickly and with exposure to very little of the allergen.

Drs. Noga Askenazi and Eugenia Hahn can determine if allergies are truly to blame by ordering specialized tests. The gold standard in testing is typically either a patch or prick skin test. These tests involve exposing you to a very small amount of the suspected allergen in a controlled and safe environment. The extract will be applied via an adhesive patch or a painless skin prick. Drs. Askenazi and Hahn will then monitor for reactions (such as a raised bump) that suggest the food is indeed the allergen.

While skin tests are very reliable diagnostic tools for many types of allergies, they are not conclusive for all types of food allergies. In some cases, an oral ingestion or food challenge may be suggested. This challenge involves the consumption of tiny amounts of the suspect allergen. The process is repeated with larger amounts of the suspected food until either a reaction is seen or the food is ruled out as the cause of your symptoms. Safety is maintained as the tests are conducted at Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates and Food Allergy Center of Illinois and under the supervision of our specialists.

For both food allergies and food intolerance, you may benefit from a food diary. By tracking your eating habits and any ensuing symptoms, our specialists may be able to zero in on the cause of your disruptive ailments. A thorough review of your medical history can also rule out other medical conditions that may be to blame for your distressing symptoms, such as celiac disease.

As experts in allergies and related diseases, Drs. Askenazi and Hahn, and their team, are best equipped to determine if food allergy is to blame for your symptoms. The Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates and Food Allergy Center of Illinois can bring to bear skin tests and oral ingestion challenges, as well as other specialized tests to bring you a step closer to managing your symptoms with effective treatment.

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Dr. Noga Askenazi, Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates

Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates

Dr. Noga Askenazi | Dr. Eugenia Hahn | Meredith Cirrincione

Dr. Noga Askenazi is a nationally recognized asthma and allergy specialist who is board certified in pediatric and adult allergy. Her areas of special interest are innovative treatment of rashes, sinusitis, food allergies, asthma and immune disorders. She was past President of the ISAAI (Illinois Society of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology), works on state and national committees for advancement of the allergy field and is a consultant for Advocate, AMITA, Northwestern amongst other health care systems. Her joy is helping patients reach their goals after together determining best treatments. Her staff and patients are a chosen family, and she invests in their happiness. She enjoys gardening, biking and cooking to good music.


Dr. Eugenia Hahn is a highly recognized board certified allergist and immunologist who treats patients of all ages. Her areas of special interest are food allergy, eczema, and asthma. She is president of the Illinois Society of Allergy & Asthma, a National Committee leader of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, a member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology working on new treatment options for patients. She is a consultant for Advocate, Northwestern, AMITA, Northwest Community healthcare systems amongst many others. Her patients mean everything to her as she takes pride in finding the why behind the problem. She enjoys reading and spending time with her family.


Meredith Cirrincione is a board certified Physician Assistant and specializes in treating allergies, with a focus on asthma, rashes, environmental allergies, chemical and food allergies. She holds a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from The Chicago Medical School - Rosalind Franklin University of Health Sciences. She is a Fellow member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Illinois Academy of Physician Assistants, and the Association of PAs in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. She likes to approach things holistically. She is a strong patient advocate and adored by her patients. She enjoys singing, reading, cooking, and the great outdoors.