Food Allergy Testing

Schedule a Food Allergy Test

Are you concerned that you might have food allergies but aren’t sure how to confirm or get the support you need? Or does the stress and confusion about potential food allergies impact what you eat and your quality of life? Or perhaps you just avoid foods that you love, just to be safe.

There is a lot of confusion around reactions to food and what they actually mean. Is it due to an allergy? Or maybe you just have a sensitivity or intolerance?

Because many food allergies share similar symptoms with food sensitivity or intolerance, self-assessment can not only be inaccurate and potentially worrisome, it can put your health at risk. The best way to truly understand what you are experiencing is by seeking an accurate diagnosis with a board-certified allergist.

At Latitude Food Allergy Care, we clear up this confusion using a comprehensive approach that combines historical data, skin tests, blood tests, and — when necessary — oral food challenges to get the most accurate diagnosis possible.

What is Food Allergy Testing?

Food allergy testing consists of a progressive series of tests to determine whether a patient has a true food allergy. If the test results are negative, yet the patient has a reaction to the food, they may have a food sensitivity (often called food intolerance). Tests to determine if you have an allergy may include: a skin prick test, a blood test, a component test, and an oral food challenge. 

When used in combination, these forms of food allergy testing can provide patients with a full, reliable, and highly accurate picture of their food allergies. Proper food allergy testing is crucial to ensuring that patients and their families can live their lives safely, free from fear. 

Unfortunately, food allergies are often misdiagnosed as a food sensitivity or food intolerance. Although a food allergy and a food sensitivity may share similar symptoms, a true food allergy invokes an immune system response that can trigger severe, life-threatening symptoms. 

Severe food allergies may induce anaphylaxis, which can cause the body to go into anaphylactic shock. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can occur within minutes of eating a certain food, and an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) is the only effective treatment. If anaphylaxis is suspected, inject epinephrine, and then seek emergency care.

While preventing anaphylaxis is obviously important, food allergy testing can also help you:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of your health and how to manage it
  • Know what foods to avoid and what foods can be safely consumed
  • Increase overall quality of life by removing unnecessary dietary restrictions
  • Decrease stress or anxiety over accidental exposure

Latitude can test for many food allergies including milk allergy, egg allergy, peanut allergy, wheat allergy, and shellfish allergy. Learn more about these and other common allergens.

How is Food Allergy Testing Done at Latitude?

An accurate diagnosis begins with a thorough analysis of each patient’s health history. Our clinicians will review your past health history, your diet, your symptoms, and your reactions before testing begins. The goal of the tests is to identify whether there are IgE mediated reactions, which would confirm the food allergy. There are four steps to clinically determine whether someone has a true food allergy. These include: 

Skin Prick Test

This is a safe and low-risk test in which the suspected allergen is placed on the skin while under supervision. Most reactions appear as bumps or hives and the larger the skin reaction, the more likely it is to be a true allergy. Mild itchiness is the most common side effect. The results are read and shared with you by a clinician. 

Blood Test

A blood test will measure the amounts of IgE antibodies that the immune system has deployed as a response to a suspected allergen. Once drawn, the blood is sent to a lab to be evaluated. Blood tests are safe for infants, children and adults. While the results of a skin prick test are essentially immediate, the results from a blood test often take several days.

Component Test

A component test is a form of a blood test that assesses whether a patient can tolerate certain components of a suspected allergen. This test provides heightened clarity to a clinician and pinpoints specific aspects that may be less harmful. For example, a component test may determine that you are allergic to a food in one form, but can safely tolerate it when it’s in another form.

Oral Food Challenge

An oral food challenge is the gold standard in food allergy testing. It can determine, with certainty, whether a suspected allergen may safely be consumed, and is only undertaken when a clinician assesses that a patient is likely to pass. Under clinical observation, the patient consumes small amounts of the suspected allergen in increasing amounts over a 3- to 4-hour time period.

In combination with your patient history, a physical examination, and food allergy tests, Latitude’s board certified allergists can help provide you with an accurate diagnosis to help unlock a better future.

How Accurate is Food Allergy Testing?

Latitude utilizes the gold standard for food allergy testing, leveraging all the tools we have to provide accurate and reliable diagnoses. Each step in the food allergy testing process is administered by a skilled clinician, ensuring that patients receive expert care throughout all stages. 

While at-home food allergy tests may seem like a fast and convenient way to diagnose food allergies, the plain truth is that they do not provide accurate results. This is because a true food allergy is marked by an immune-mediated response, where the immune system releases IgE antibodies in response to a certain food protein. A skilled clinician can look for IgE antibodies during the testing process to properly diagnose a food allergy. 

Conversely, at-home food allergy tests look for IgG antibodies. These antibodies function as small pieces of your body’s memory: your body recognizes food that you’ve eaten in the past through IgG antibodies. Although IgG antibodies are also produced by the immune system, they are not markers for an allergic response. IgG antibodies often generate false positives and cause patients to be misdiagnosed, either unnecessarily restricting their diet or putting their health at risk. 

Any food allergy testing must be done under the care of an experienced allergist to ensure that diagnoses are reliable, accurate, and take into account a patient’s full health history. All patients deserve the peace of mind to feel confident in their food allergy diagnosis. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have a food allergy, your best course of action is to make an appointment with an expert team who specialize in diagnosing and testing for food allergies.

Is Food Allergy Testing Safe?

A common misconception is that food allergy testing — specifically skin prick tests — increases the likelihood of getting an allergy. This is simply not true: undergoing food allergy testing does not have any influence over whether you will develop an allergy in the near- or long-term. 

Some risk does exist in food allergy testing, however, particularly with food challenges. This is why food allergy testing should always be performed in a safe/controlled environment with a trained clinician, and only after determining that a patient is likely able to safely and successfully pass the food challenge. If you suspect that you may have a food allergy, never attempt to test, diagnose, or treat your food allergy on your own

Regardless of the outcome of a food challenge, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Studies have shown that undergoing a food challenge significantly improves health-related quality of life in patients, regardless of whether a food challenge confirms or disproves the presence of a food allergy.

food allergy blood test

Is Food Allergy Testing for Babies the Same as for Food Allergy Testing for Adults?

Food allergy testing for babies means – naturally – starting with less health history to reference. As a result, the process of food allergy testing in infants and young children is best done in stages. For many babies and young children with diagnosed food allergies, accurate food allergy testing should be an ongoing, annual process. 

Your child’s allergies may change rapidly as their body grows, making yearly testing a common clinical recommendation. While some food allergies may be outgrown, many children carry persistent food allergies into adulthood (such as peanut allergy) and reactions may increase in severity. Annual food allergy testing for infants and young children ensures that parents have full visibility into their changing dietary needs. 

When conducting food allergy testing for adults, a clinician can consider a wider range of information from the patient’s health history. Factors such as food history, past test results, other health conditions, and reactions all provide extremely useful data in food allergy diagnosis. Although adult patients may not need annual testing, periodic testing is often recommended to identify new patterns or changes. This can confirm whether the allergy has been outgrown or still exists, while providing the secondary benefit of ensuring that the patient isn’t unnecessarily avoiding foods. 

What do I do If My Food Allergy Test Confirms I Have a Food Allergy?

If testing confirms that you have a food allergy, you may feel as though your only option is to simply avoid eating that food. Though avoidance is certainly an option, it can be challenging long term. Making a best effort to avoid an allergen does not protect against cases of accidental contact or ingestion, and may put you at risk for severe allergic reactions. It can also cause unnecessary dietary restrictions and stress, decreasing quality of life. 

Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is a safe and effective long-term food allergy treatment. By consuming small doses of allergens over time, OIT retrains your immune system and minimizes allergic reactions from food allergies. OIT can protect against accidental exposure, provide peace of mind, and empower patients to confidently eat a full, balanced diet. 

At Latitude, 92% of our OIT patients are successfully desensitized to their allergens and can live more freely. We are proud to offer OIT for our patients, and has helped hundreds of our patients take control of their food allergies. 

Contact Latitude Food Allergy Care Today

Are you or someone you love concerned about a potential food allergy? Take the next step toward better health and better quality of life with Latitude Food Allergy Care. Our Patient Care Coordinators are happy to discuss your testing and treatment options to determine whether you are a candidate for treatment. Contact us today to schedule your no-obligation call.

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