f you or your family member is diagnosed as having a food allergy, you are not alone. Twelve million Americans have food allergies. Approximately 90% of all food allergies are linked to eight food or food groups: milk, egg, peanut, soybean, tree nuts, wheat, fish, shellfish, and more recently, sesame seed.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction to food can range from a mild rash or mild gastrointestinal symptoms to more serious systemic allergic reaction and even anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition characterized by generalized hives, swelling, closing of the throat, difficulty breathing, non-stop vomiting, dizziness, vision disturbance and eventually can progress to collapse. Also, many people with Spring and Fall hay fever symptoms develop allergies to raw fruits and vegetables with feeling of itchy mouth and throat. Another food sensitivity related condition called eosinophilic esophagitis can cause difficulty swallowing, acid reflux and eventually severe esophageal obstruction in children and adults. Eosinophilic esophagitis is associated with food sensitivity to 6 major food groups and elimination diet helps to control this condition.
And a newly described food allergy condition is Alpha-gal sensitization caused by bite of the Lone Star tick. As a result, you can become allergic to red meat with potentially Anaphylactic reaction. Duration of the Alpha-gal allergy is about 2 to 5 yrs.
Dr. Viksman will take a detailed history and use skin and blood tests to arrive at a diagnosis of your specific food allergy. In general skin testing is more reliable than blood tests, but sometimes neither is conclusive. The guidelines from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology for food allergy management recommend the use of oral food challenges for more accurate diagnosis.
Oral food challenges are designed to begin with consumption of tiny amounts of the suspect food and slowly progress to a larger amount until reaching a serving size under close medical supervision. It could safely be performed in adults and in some children to determine whether the diagnosis of food allergy is correct. In many children, food allergies can also be outgrown. This is the usual case for milk and egg allergies, and occasionally for peanuts, tree nuts and some other food products. Carefully supervised challenges in the office are the only safe way to determine whether a food can be introduced back into a child’s diet.
Based on the comprehensive evaluation, our doctor will give specific dietary recommendations and provide the education and skills necessary to manage an allergic reaction should one occur. Dr. Viksman will also periodically re-evaluate his patient’s food allergy condition and always provide the necessary medical support.