Food Allergy Testing And Treatment- Allergy/Immunology

What is food allergy?

Food allergy is an immune reaction, which occurs quickly after eating specific type of food. Food allergy can lead to symptoms such as swollen airways, digestive problems, hives etc. In serious cases food allergy can cause severe symptoms or a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.

An allergist should be consulted in case you have food allergy.

Allergy Testing:

Some foods cause allergic reaction several hours after the consumption. Hence, allergy testing is necessary.

  • History of food allergy: During allergy testing, patient is asked following questions:
    • How much of the food patient had?
    • What symptoms patient has?
    • What are the symptoms after eating food?
    • How long does it take for the symptoms to appear?
    • How often the allergic reaction occurs?
    • Does the same type of allergic reaction occur with other foods?
    • Does the allergic reaction occur every time after eating the same food?
    • Is patient taking any medical treatment?
  • Skin prick test: This test helps determine patient’s reaction to a specific food. During this test, a small amount of the suspected food is placed on the skin of forearm or back. Then the skin is pricked with a needle to let a little amount of the substance underneath the skin surface. If the patient is allergic to any specific substance, a raised bump or reaction develops.
  • Blood test: A blood test is done to measure patient’s immune system's response to specific foods by determining the allergy-related antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE).
  • Oral food challenge: While performing this test, patient is given small but increasing amounts of the suspected food. If the patient doesn't develop a reaction during this test, he/she may include that particular food in the diet again.


Treatment depends on the severity of allergic reaction.

  • Minor allergic reaction: For this type of allergic reaction, antihistamines are helpful to reduce symptoms. It helps to relieve itching or hives.
  • Severe allergic reaction: For this type of allergic reaction, patient is given an emergency injection of epinephrine. Patient may be also required to go to the hospital. Patients with allergies are recommended to carry an epinephrine autoinjector. It is used to inject single dose of medicine in thigh. Patient should know how to use the autoinjector.



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About the Author:

Dr. Anand Lakhkar is a physician scientist from India. He completed his basic medical education from India and his postgraduate training in pharmacology from the United States. He has a MS degree in pharmacology from New York Medical College, a MS degree in Cancer/Neuro Pharmacology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Pharmacology from New York Medical College where he was the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Council Award for academic and research excellence.  His research area of expertise is in pulmonary hypertension, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular pharmacology.  He has multiple publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has presented his research at at prestigious conferences.