Food Allergy Testing & Treatment in Vermont
Food Allergy/Intolerance Symptoms
Common symptoms of food allergy/intolerance include asthma, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, ear infections, sinusitis, migraine headaches, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, depression, fatigue, hyperactivity, obesity and post nasal drip. The list of possible symptoms is even longer.
Blood Testing for Food Allergy/Intolerance
An easy and convenient method to determine what, if any, foods an individual is reacting to is blood food allergy testing. There are many different types of tests available, and even more labs that perform these tests, but the most accurate is antibody testing.
The immune system produces antibodies to any substance that it views as foreign, such as a bacteria or virus. Under normal circumstances this is a good thing and a crucial weapon of our immune systems. With allergies, however, the immune system becomes overactive and antibodies are produced to things we don’t want them produced for, such as foods, pollen and even our own bodies.
Blood antibody testing requires as little as a few drops of blood, which is then exposed to a variety of different foods in the laboratory. A report is produced which lists the amount of antibody found for each of the foods tested. The advantage of this type of test is that 100 or more foods are commonly tested, and the list of foods that need to be eliminated is usually shorter and easier than with an elimination diet. This testing is also covered by some insurance plans.
Antibodies That Cause Food Allergy Reactions
There are three primary classes of antibodies that cause food allergic reactions: IgG, IgA and IgE. IgE reactions cause an immediate and potentially severe reaction, such as when someone eats peanuts, shellfish, or strawberries and has difficulty breathing. Most people with this type of allergy already know what they react to. This type of reaction is sometimes called a true food allergy.
IgG and IgA cause delayed reactions that can take up to 24-48 hours to occur and are much more insidious in nature, causing any number of symptoms. Most people with this type of allergy don’t know they are allergic or don’t know all of the foods they react to. This type of reaction is often confused with food intolerance/sensitivity.
Skin Scratch Testing
Allergists most commonly use skin scratch testing for food allergies. While this is a very good test for IgE based immediate reactions, it is not a good test for the delayed allergic reactions. Unfortunately most conventional physicians, and even allergists, don’t understand the connection between delayed food allergic reactions and symptoms/diseases. Therefore many people are never advised that their problems may be caused by food allergies, or are erroneously told they don’t have food allergies.
IgG/IgA Food Allergy Testing
While this type of test is considered investigational by some insurance and many physicians, we find it to be very effective for many people with the above conditions when the right test is used and it is interpreted properly. We generally test both IgG and IgA antibodies when we do allergy testing. In our experience, about 75% of the time people with food allergy symptoms get better when they eliminate the foods identified on a good IgG/IgA food allergy test. It is also important to understand that this type of testing is a tool to make a food elimination/challenge diet easier and more effective. The final answer always come from the elimination diet.
Sometimes the choice of lab can make all the difference in getting accurate food allergy test results. In the past, many labs have performed poorly when independently tested by split sample testing. Split sample testing is when the blood from one person is sent to the same lab for the same test under a different name. A good lab should get exactly the same results. Unfortunately, when it comes to food allergy testing, this is frequently not the case. Therefore we use a laboratory, US Biotek, which does its own in-house split sample testing on every patient to ensure that the results are accurate. Our own split sample testing, and published trials with this lab, have found highly reproducible results.
How We Can Help
Food Allergy/Intolerance Treatment
Knowing one’s food allergies is often crucial to the effective treatment of a wide range of diseases. To be tested for food or airborne allergies, or for help with elimination diets or other treatments for food allergies, schedule an office visit or food allergy test.