More than 25% of children and adults in the United States have at least one food allergy. When not properly managed, food allergies can cause health complications. An allergy specialist is an excellent place to start when you suspect your child may have a food allergy.
Board-certified allergy and immunology specialist Dr. Ulrike Ziegner at Riviera Allergy Medical Center is devoted to using her expertise in allergy, asthma, and immunology to provide the best care for children and adults.
Dr. Ziegner performs comprehensive allergy testing to detect potential food allergies if you suspect your child may have an allergy to certain foods.
Recognizing the signs of food allergies
The first step in addressing potential food allergies is recognizing the signs and symptoms. Common signs include:
- Stomach discomfort
- Stomach upset
Symptoms can appear within minutes to a few hours after eating the offending food. Keeping a detailed food diary for your child, noting what they eat and any reactions, can be instrumental in identifying potential allergies.
Testing to detect food allergies
The most common tests for diagnosing food allergies include skin prick tests and blood tests.
In a skin prick test, a small amount of the suspected allergen is placed on the skin, and the skin is lightly pricked. If your child is allergic, a small red bump, similar to a mosquito bite, appears at the test site.
This test is widely used because it's relatively quick, and Dr. Ziegner can observe results within minutes. It’s important to note that while skin prick tests can indicate a sensitivity to a particular food, they don't always accurately predict how severe an allergic reaction could be.
Blood tests, on the other hand, measure the amount of IgE antibodies to specific foods in the blood. These tests are useful when skin tests can't be performed — for instance, if your child has a skin condition like eczema, or if they're taking medication that could interfere with skin testing.
In some cases, if the results of skin and blood tests are inconclusive, Dr. Ziegner may recommend an oral food challenge. This is done in a controlled medical environment due to the risk of triggering a severe allergic reaction.
During an oral food challenge, your child is given gradually increasing amounts of the suspected allergen while under close medical supervision.
Avoid trigger foods
Once the allergens are identified, the next step is to avoid them completely. This involves reading food labels carefully, being vigilant about cross-contamination, and educating your child, depending on their age, about what they can and can’t eat.
It's also important to inform caregivers, teachers, and family members about your child's allergies to ensure their safety in different environments.
Educate and empower your child
As your child grows, educating them about their food allergies is crucial. Teach them to recognize symptoms, understand the importance of avoiding certain foods, and how to communicate their needs to others.
Empowering them with this knowledge can help them manage their allergies confidently as they become more independent.
Navigating your child through food allergies can seem overwhelming, but with the right care and medical support, you can keep your child healthy, and safeguard them against health complications.
Contact us today at our office in Redondo Beach, California.