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Facts about Food Allergies (page 2)

By — American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology
Updated on Mar 10, 2009

Diagnosis

Your child’s allergist will collect a detailed history and conduct a physical exam which is essential for diagnosis of food allergies. An important part of diagnosis will involve testing for foods. Food testing may involve a blood test or a skin test.

Allergy skin testing is the most accurate test and can best determine which foods your child is allergic to. A tiny amount of suspected foods will be scratched, or pricked, on the surface of your child’s skin. If your child is allergic, small red bumps will appear at the site of the food. This test is safe, comfortable and fast – results are available in about 15 minutes.

Treatment

In mild cases of food allergies, treatment with antihistamines may be enough. However, when worrisome signs or symptoms occur, an allergic reaction must be treated quickly to prevent it from progressing to a more serious stage.

To effectively treat an allergic reaction, you and your child must be prepared. Have medications (epinephrine and antihistamine) at hand and know how and when to use them. When your child is old enough, teach them when to take medication, as well. Be sure teachers, coaches and other adults that supervise your child are aware of her food allergies and prepared to handle a reaction.

In serious reactions, an epinephrine auto-injector should be used immediately. The sooner the epinephrine is administered, the more effective it will be. Once epinephrine is administered, call 911. A serious reaction will need further treatment at the emergency room.

If your child is prescribed an epinephrine injector, read the instructions in the package immediately to learn how to use it. You can also ask your pharmacist for a demonstration unit or ask your doctor to do a demonstration for you. Make note of the expiration date and be sure to get a replacement.

 

Andrew S. Kim, MD, is an allergist/immunologist based in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is the largest professional medical association devoted to the research and treatment of allergic disease. The AAAAI offers educational materials for patients online at www.aaaai.org.
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