FCAAIA Notes: The diagnosis of food allergy goes far beyond a simple blood test or skin test. Test results must always be interpreted in the context of the patient’s individual history. Tests for food are usually not “black and white.” Many practitioners do tests for allergy that are proven to have no diagnostic validity whatsoever. A good source of nformation as to what tests for are proven useful is http://www.quackwatch.org/. This web site has numerous well-written and well-referenced articles about many aspects of health.
(Source: CNN Health, December 6, 2010 http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/06/docs-get-guide-for-iding-food-allergies/ )
The first guidelines for diagnosing and managing food allergies were released Monday by The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). Designed by and for allergists, immunologists and other health care professionals, the guidelines represent the best practices for management of a disease where there is no current treatment. It’s a framework intended to help doctors make appropriate decisions about treating patients, but not fixed rules that must be followed. Doctors and patients still need to develop individual treatment plans based on the circumstance of the patient.
The most common food allergens in this country are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, wheat and soy. Milk and eggs are the two most common allergies seen in pediatric patients, but 80 percent of children outgrow them. Peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish allergies more often last a lifetime–less than 10-20 percent of kids outgrow them according to Dr. Hugh Sampson, Professor of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a member of the Guidelines Coordinating Committee.
Sampson says food allergy is often over-diagnosed. In fact, he says one of the most common problems is confusion over whether a patient has food sensitivity -a reaction to foods that does not involve the immune system – or true food allergies. Some of the symptoms are the same. “A lot of doctors order large numbers of blood tests to various foods and when they find small amounts of antibodies present they indicated allergic reaction,” Sampson said, leading to children being put on very highly restricted diets. “The exercise of diagnosing a food allergy is not just doing a skin test or blood test. It takes a combination of patient history, and oral food challenges.”
An oral food challenge is when a food is given to a patient in a controlled setting to watch for a reaction. Sampson says many doctors don’t perform oral tests because it’s time consuming, and there is some risk involved.
A set of 18 guidelines address diagnosis. For example, when food allergies should be considered: If a combination of symptoms like hives, Please scroll down to any of the articles below. To access any web site cited, please copy the URL and paste it in to your browser.