If you or someone you love is living with food allergies, we hope the last several weeks of holiday celebrations were joyful and safe. But we know the potential for an allergic reaction likely means that for some, fear will linger well into the new year.
Some families have fears of reliving past reactions and emergency room visits, while others live on high alert for the first signs of anaphylaxis. But in general, the anxiety of new environments and situations where exposure risks are out of their control weighs heavy on so many families. Our patients have shared countless stories of their own fears caused by new situations — starting a new preschool, sending their child to college, visiting a friend’s house, or dining at a new restaurant. One patient recently shared his story about managing more than 16 allergies throughout his childhood, and the impact it had on his family and his college plans.
Compounding these real risks are misconceptions about food allergies — pervasive in media, schools and even amongst our own families and friends. There is outdated and unclear information about different allergens, as well as testing and treatment options. There are at-home tests and treatments that have varying degrees of accuracy or effectiveness. Even some doctors may tell patients that the safest thing is just to avoid entire categories of food, which can leave families unnecessarily restricting their foods and activities.
But there is good news — 2023 can be the year you make a resolution to put that all behind you!!
Like any other resolution, you’re more likely to succeed and make positive changes in your life if you have a solid support team in place. That’s where Latitude Food Allergy Care comes in. Latitude was founded by food allergic families who understand how confusing and stressful living with allergies can be. We specialize only in food allergy testing and treatment, so we’re entirely focused on helping families like yours move on from the day-to-day anxiety of food allergies.
Get fast access to food allergy testing and advanced treatment options. Learn more.
A simple process, step by step: Start by getting clear answers
With food allergies, the first step on the journey to eating more freely is to get answers with a clear diagnosis. This means understanding your family’s food allergies and sensitivities, and is best achieved by working with a board-certified allergist. They’ll review your full health history — diet, symptoms, and history of reactions — before any testing begins.
Why is a board-certified allergist so important at this stage? Many food allergies share similar symptoms with food sensitivity or intolerance, so self-assessment can not only be inaccurate and potentially worrisome, it can put your health at risk. Although at-home food allergy tests may seem like a quick and easy way to identify potential food allergies, they often won’t provide accurate or reliable results, and you are left trying to understand their reports without proper context. Self-assessment and following outdated recommendations often leave families unnecessarily restricting their foods and activities.
Allergies can change over time and skin and/or blood testing alone do not always provide clear answers. The gold standard of food allergy testing, oral food challenges, are provided when a clinician determines that a patient has a likely chance of safely reincorporating a suspected allergen into their diet. Under careful in-clinic observation, the patient consumes small amounts of a suspected allergen to determine which foods (if any) the patient can safely eat. Historically, people haven’t had much access to these important tests, but food challenges can enable many families to reintroduce foods they have been avoiding.
With these tools, your allergist can distinguish between a food intolerance or sensitivity and a true allergy. Food allergy testing at Latitude ensures that you have reliable, clear and actionable answers to move forward confidently.
The next step: Get a truly personalized treatment plan
If testing confirms that you have a food allergy, one option is to avoid your allergen and foods that may contain that ingredient. In fact, this was the common recommendation from allergists for many decades. That can be challenging as some allergens are common in many foods and you are still left vulnerable to accidental exposure. But there are accessible treatment options, beyond strict avoidance, for many patients.
At Latitude, food allergy treatment is tailored to you. Treatment can be life-changing and our team is here to guide you through all of your choices with clear explanations and our expert recommendations.
The third step: Begin treatment
Your personalized treatment plan may include oral immunotherapy (OIT), a safe and effective long-term food allergy treatment that helps patients build up a tolerance to food allergens by introducing a gradually increasing dose of food over time. OIT retrains your immune system and minimizes allergic reactions from food allergies.
The treatment process can empower patients to confidently eat a full, balanced diet, protect against accidental exposure, and provide peace of mind. Many families find the reassurance of treatment allows them to fully embrace new situations — from visiting a friend’s house or dining at a new restaurant to sending a child away for college.
Put food allergies behind you in 2023
We understand how challenging it can be to live with food allergies. They increase stress in situations that should otherwise be joyful and enriching. We believe food allergies should not prevent you from living the full and enjoyable life you and your family deserve.