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How, and how not, to diagnose a food allergy

By pure coincidence, both I and my colleague Sandy Boodman wrote this week about adults with food allergies. My "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column about adult-onset shellfish allergy appears today in the Post's new Local Living section, where it will reside from now on.

One of the things I learned while researching that story was that if you have an allergic reaction that you think was caused by a certain food, it's important to have a medical professional -- preferably an allergist -- confirm that connection. Turns out people often attribute their allergy to one food when it's another food altogether that's the culprit. That, of course, is a mess: You end up avoiding a food that's perfectly safe for you and not avoiding the one that is likely to trigger another reaction.

Here is the Food Allergy Initiative's rundown of the diagnostic tests, including skin pricks and blood tests, that your doctor might use to pin down your food allergy. And here is the FAI's list of tests that someone might propose but that you should reject because there's no science to support them. Hint: If someone comes after you with a galvanometer, run!

Now it's your turn: Have you developed a food allergy as an adult? What are you allergic to? And how did you find out you were allergic?

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  October 22, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Nutrition and Fitness  
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Next: Is That Right? French's mustard shares just one ingredient with mayo, ketchup?

Comments

I developed numerous food sensitivities as an adult. According to allergists who practiced "conventional" medicine, I had no allergies because blood tests and scratch tests came up negative. This despite the fact that food reactions included shortness of breath, hives, increased heart rate, dizzyness, facial swelling, and on several occasions, anaphylaxis, which ended up in trips to the emergency room. I fortunately consulated a naturopath who ordered IgG testing (much hated by conventional doctors). Sure enough, I showed sensitivities to gluten, dairy, and eggs. I have removed them from my diet and no longer have reactions. I encourage your audience to seek alternative medicine practioners for allergies.

Posted by: kgar | October 22, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse


Take the FEAR Out of FOOD > Via your Prime Dr. a FOOD & Enviro Allergy Blood Test will:

]> Identify your Offending Geo-Regional, Seasonal & Year-round allergens > Which are then Neutralized via Custom Formulated > NaturesAllergyDrops.com ( Think ImmunoTherapy without the OUCH )

]> Becasue FOOD Allergy is treated via DIET > Your Immediate IgE FOODs and YOUR IgG4 Delayed FOODs are addressed via a Custom Generated FOOD Allergy DIET plan > Suggesting FOODs to Eat, Not Eat, Rerstrict & ReIntroduce on a Controlled basis.

NOW > Via Your Prime Dr. > An Allergy Solution designed specifically to Test / Target / Treat > Your Unique Enviro & FOOD Allergy / Test ID'ed Profile.

Do not just focus on FOODs > Test / Neutralize the Enviro Side of your Allergy COIN > Today's Allergy > tomorrow's (Allergic) Asthma ( Achoo & Ouch ) !

Best Health = Wealth Regards,

Stephen

Posted by: stephenhauer | October 22, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't have food allergies, but I have a kid who does. Reactions trump results. Scratch and blood tests are not 100% accurate.

Posted by: MOMto2 | October 23, 2009 7:15 AM | Report abuse

Allergies don't just have to be serious enough for hospitalization.

Years ago, I sort of tried several of the principles of the macrobiotic diet. (Oh so hated by the medical/nutrition establishment.) They say you should keep your mouth shut and breathe through your nose. I couldn't at all. I found out by not eating dairy, it cleared up my clogged sinuses. (I now limit my dairy consumption. If I have too much, I feel it coming back.)

Stopped eating bread. That stopped my post-nasal drip - mucus which goes back down my throat and I have to clear my throat.

Posted by: cmecyclist | October 23, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

For several years now if I eat nuts I see above my right eye lid closer to the nose gets rough skin and discolores(black) and itches. Dermatologist said it is Eczema and prescribed something. It some times helps but eating nuts is the culprint.

A month ago I ate a chocolate covered with creame filled donut the next days I noticed big bump under my right eye and cheeks reddish as if though some one has punched my eye. And also with some scratching. I atttributed it to the donut which I had never had a problem with in my life time for cholates or chacolate donuts. Then next week I ate the chocolate covered only not creamed - this time it was worse than the previous weak. But within couple of days they all disappeared. One weekend Saturday we were attending a wedding wherein they were giving mixed nuts with m&m's to munch and I ate may be 7-8 pieces of mixed nuts. Ate lunch which I eat normally. Came home and took a nap - when I woke up my neck and my face were all scrachi - got up and looked at my face in the morror - it was all bumpy and my right cheak swelled up. It only affects my right side of the face and has not on the left side. This time I noticed that my either side of my mouth skin more curmbly. Next days it was upbearable so I had to get Benedril and take it. Couple of more days it was all back to normal. I am not sure what to attribute all this to - becuase - I think previous to this I had eaten some left over frozen pizza and some other frozen snak from the freezer. I am wondering if those things that have been in the freezer so long were the culprits. Or may be I have developped alergies to other food items since I take medication for high blood presure, and thyroid plus fish oil gels, vitamis etc. I do carry Benedril with me at all the times so if some thing happens I can at least have somthing to fall back on.

Posted by: shanthi1 | October 23, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I went to doctors every couple of years for many years with chronic low grade stomach aches. Finally, I went to an environmental doctor who recommended a wheat free trial of a week. Voila, stomach aches gone, muscles not stiff or achey, no depression. Is this a food sensitivity, food allergy, or celiac disease? Who cares? I don't need an allergist to tell me I am sick or not. I tested it several times myself, going back and forth eathing and avoiding wheat, and always had consistent results. Once a coincidence, twice, maybe something in the recipe served with the wheat, like yeast, third time, rule other stuff out, it's wheat. You don't have to be a doctor to discover your food sensitivities.

Posted by: jane32 | October 23, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

It has been a long road for us as parents of a child with food allergies. I know you asked if we as adults have one...but I still wanted to comment about this as it is something close to my heart. We went through all kinds of testing with him too and every test was contradictory of the one before. Nothing made sense and the allergist just kept giving him more and more oral steroids. It was awful until we finally put him on Vidazorb chewable probiotics and this has been the one and only thing to really help him dramatically! We did so many elimination diets too that were unsuccessful bc he seemed to react to everything! For many months, all he could eat was chicken, peas and rice and that was terrible for him too. Thankfully though with our probiotic, he is now able to enjoy all kinds of foods for once and he still looks and feels great! I think there is such a strong correlation between the gut and food allergies/sensitivities!!

Posted by: smilinggreenmom | October 24, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I developed a shellfish allergy when I was 29 and very healthy. The shrimp I took a bite of tasted rotten and I spit it out. Soon after I started having an allergic reaction and almost died. Since that day I have become allergic to medications, foods, etc.

Thank you for writing this article as alot of restaurants do not understand the seriousness of this allergy. I've been told a rash is no big deal, etc. I ask frequently if the food is cooked on the same grill, utinsils touch, etc. I never eat fried food because they will cook everything together especially if the restaurant is busy.

Posted by: kathwhi110 | October 28, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

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