Diagnosing a true food allergy is a complex process, which is why it’s important to seek the help of a board certified allergist – and not to draw any conclusions yourself. For information about finding an allergist in your area, visit the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology website at www.acaai.org.
Some confusion exists about the proper diagnosis of a food allergy. Dr. JJ Levenstein explains what parents need to know.
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with a food allergy? Hear from others who have been in your shoes.
What’s the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy?
Many people confuse food intolerance with an allergy. The main difference? A food intolerance response typically involves symptoms limited to the digestive system, while an allergic reaction to food involves the immune system. Because the symptoms between the two can be similar, it’s important to be tested and receive a proper diagnosis. In fact, according to the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States, multiple studies demonstrate that 50-90 percent of presumed food allergies are not allergies.**
I or someone I know was just diagnosed with a food allergy. What are the next steps?
Millions of people successfully live with food allergies every day. The keys to success are having a comprehensive allergy management plan and being diligent before consuming any food you are uncertain about. FAACT has a variety of resources for the newly diagnosed.
How will the doctor diagnose a food allergy?
Since there’s no single test that can confirm or rule out an allergy, your doctor will take several steps in order to properly identify a food allergy. The doctor will most likely conduct blood and/or skin tests to identify the food(s) that may be causing a reaction. These results, paired with those from an oral food challenge test and all other information (such as a food diary, family history, previous reactions, etc.), help determine whether a food allergy exists.***