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Food Allergy Testing

Food Allergy Testing in NY (New York)

According to the Food Allergy Research and Education organization, food allergies affect more than 30 million Americans, including children. Food allergy statistics in and around many metropolitan areas, including New York, show that food allergies are on the rise, with children suffering from severe manifestations of the condition more than ever before. Discover more on Food allergy testing in NY. 

While there is no cure for food allergies, testing provides information and understanding about specific allergies. Testing helps identify the specific foods that are causing the reaction, which is important in developing a treatment plan.

Doctor Roya specializes in food allergy testing in NY. Her role as an expert medical professional in this area explains her growing list of patient referrals. Throughout her four New York area offices, she promotes the concept of patient empowerment – learning about the conditions that affect them. To that end, she encourages all to read the following overview to understand better food allergies and how food allergy testing can be a significant first step in eliminating adverse reactions to food – both minor and severe.

What are food allergies?

A food allergy is an adverse bodily reaction to a food. One’s immune system overreacts to a food protein, thinking it is harmful and produces IgE, immunoglobulin antibodies. This triggers the release of histamine and other chemicals that cause symptoms such as hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal distress.

Histamines prompt a metabolic response in an attempt to usher allergens out of the body or off the surface of the skin. This release can cause an outbreak of itching, sneezing and tearing of the eyes. It’s basically an individual’s defense system attempting to combat the ingested, or skin-contacted, allergen.

Foods that cause allergies

Some of the most popular foods can cause significant adverse reactions for some people. These foods include:

  • Dairy, caused by the proteins found in milk and other dairy products because the body mistakes them for harmful substances
  • Eggs, and most commonly egg whites, which contains a protein called albumin. Those allergic to eggs can suffer adverse respiratory reactions, like asthma or rhinitis
  • Peanuts, which can be very serious, even life-threatening. Since peanuts are found in many food products, they often go unnoticed and can be ingested without an awareness of having eaten them
  • Tree nuts, that are ranked among the most common food allergies. Tree nuts include walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans and more.
  • Seafood/Shellfish, which can lead to the constriction of the airways and a swollen throat, characteristics of anaphylactic shock
  • Soy, which frequently begin during infancy upon the ingestion of soy-based baby formulas
  • Wheat, which is the most common food allergen. There are two proteins in wheat that are known to cause food allergies: gluten and secalin.

Theories around the cause of children’s peanut allergy​

There are several theories around the cause of peanut allergies and their rise in diagnosis. One theory is that the medical field is now better at detecting food allergies, therefore more cases are being reported. Another theory is that the surge in food allergies may be due to changes in our food supply, such as the increased use of peanuts in processed foods.

As noted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a third theory is that the increase in food allergies may be due to the ‘hygiene hypothesis.’ This theory suggests that the modern lifestyle, with its emphasis on cleanliness and sanitation, has led to a decrease in the exposure to bacteria and other microbes. This lack of exposure may cause the immune system to overreact to food proteins that it would normally ignore.

Food allergy symptoms and allergic reaction

The symptoms of food allergies can vary from person to person. The severity of the reaction depends on the amount of the allergen that was consumed and how sensitive the person is to the allergen.

Mild symptoms

Mild symptoms of food allergies include:

  • Hives and eczema (two major skin allergies)
  • Itchiness of the mouth, throat, skin, and eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose and scratchy throat
  • Watery eyes.

Moderate symptoms

Moderate symptoms of food allergies include:

 

  • Wheezing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

Severe symptoms

Anaphylactic shock (Anaphylaxis) is a severe, and potentially life-threatening, reaction to an allergen. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Symptoms of anaphylactic shock include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat and face
  • Wheezing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness.

A person who experiences these symptoms of anaphylactic shock should seek emergency medical intervention immediately.

Food allergy tests in NY (New York)

The following is a list of tests that check for food allergies and sensitivities. A consultation with Doctor Roya will identify the type of testing appropriate for each patient:

 

  • Skin prick test:
  • Blood test:
  • Elimination diet:
  • Oral food challenge.

Food allergy tests run the gamut from simple diagnostic analysis – involving minimal patient engagement, such as the skin prick or blood tests to moderate involvement – like the elimination diet to significant participation – namely, the oral food challenge.

Ideal candidates for allergy testing in New York

People who have a history of feeling unwell after eating the same food over time are ideal candidates for allergy testing. Those who may keep a food diary of their consumption are great candidates because they can bring historical evidence of past adverse reactions to an initial consultation with Doctor Roya. It’s important that anyone who suspects they may have a food allergy see a doctor.

Whenever a person has severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or face, they should seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

Results from skin prick tests and blood tests are usually available within a few days. Results from oral food challenges can take several weeks.

How to prepare for food allergy reactions

There are several things people with food allergies can do to prepare for an allergic reaction:

  • Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace
  • Carry an epinephrine auto-injector
  • Make sure family and friends know about the allergy and how to use the epinephrine auto-injector
  • Avoid trigger foods
  • Read food labels carefully.

People with food allergies should also have a plan in place in case of an emergency. This plan should include what to do if someone has a reaction and whom to call for help.

Everyday tools to help those diagnosed with food allergies

There is no cure for food allergies, but there are a couple of useful practices, or tools, that can help relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of a severe reaction. The most important thing people with food allergies can do is to avoid trigger foods – to say it plainly, they should stop eating foods that cause adverse physical responses.

However, for some people, a practical tool, like an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen®), is useful in cases of a severe allergic reaction. Having access to or carrying/traveling with this device at all times can provide immediate relief when used properly.

Food allergy testing risks

There are some risks associated with food allergy testing, particularly skin prick testing and oral food challenges.

Skin prick testing can cause a mild, itchy reaction at the test site. In rare cases, a more severe reaction, such as swelling and difficulty breathing, can occur.

Oral food challenges can also cause a severe allergic reaction. For this reason, they should only be done under medical supervision.

Food allergy testing benefits

Food allergy testing can help people with unknown food allergies identify trigger foods and learn how to avoid them. It can also help people with previously unidentified food allergies be prepared in case of a severe reaction.

Does insurance cover food allergy testing?

Most insurance plans cover at least some of the costs of food allergy testing. Doctor Roya’s four New York offices (Manhattan, Long Island, Queens) accept most major medical insurance. Contact her office for specific details about insurance carriers and individual policies.

Accurate food allergy testing is essential to develop an effective treatment plan that can improve one’s quality of life. Doctor Roya is an expert in the field of food allergy testing. As an allergist, Doctor Roya acts as a detective. Her strategies allow her to search for disruptive culprits in the form of unidentified, problematic, ingested food.

With an excellent reputation throughout the medical field, both nationally and internationally, her treatments are tailored to her patients’ individuality. She looks forward to discussing your symptoms through an initial consultation. Her offices are located throughout New York, in Manhattan, Queens and Long Island. Doctor Roya looks forward to meeting you!

No, allergy testing is not painful, but skin prick tests may cause a brief sensation of pressure or stinging when the needle punctures the skin. However, these irritations usually subside quickly. Please contact Doctor Roya to learn more about allergy testing.

Yes. An allergist like Doctor Roya may be able to diagnose a food allergy based on medical history and symptoms (which makes keeping a food diary or journal a useful exercise and subsequent tool). In any case, skin prick and blood tests are the most accurate diagnostics of food allergies.

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