Allergies pose a significant threat to many people. Within the US, one in every 13 children, under the age of 18, has a food allergy. An allergic reaction can range from a minor itchy throat to something as significant as anaphylaxis. For this reason, parents of children who have experienced an allergic reaction in the past should consider allergy testing to be an important step to keep their children safe.
Testing for food allergies is generally accomplished by a skin test, blood test or a combination of the two. Typically, testing begins with a skin test. If a positive result is received, this is generally followed with a blood test.
A scratch test is commonly used as a skin test for children. With this method, the doctor makes a very small incision, or scratch, on the skin. A liquid extracted sample of a food is then dropped on the area of scratched skin.
The child is then typically asked to sit in the office for several minutes to determine if the liquid extraction causes some form of reaction on their skin, such as turning red or forming raised spots, indicating the need for a blood test. If the child is suspected of having more than one food allergy, this test is generally repeated.
The only way to accurately confirm the presence of a food allergy is to have your child's blood tested. For this test, the doctor will collect a small sample of your child's blood. This sample is then sent off to a laboratory where its IgE levels are tested for antibodies for the foods in question. If antibodies are detected, this serves as a confirmation that the child is in fact allergic to the specific food.
While food allergies are a widespread problem, there's no need to panic. You generally don't need to have your child tested unless they have experienced a reaction before. For most children, allergy testing can be both an uncomfortable and frightening experience. There is no need to subject your child to this type of situation unnecessarily. If you're concerned, it's best to speak with your child's primary physician beforehand, to determine if allergy testing is something you need to consider.
When it comes to the health and protection of your child, you play the most important role. For more information, contact Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center or a similar location.