How to Identify a Food Allergy

A food allergy occurs when a person has an unpleasant reaction to a particular food. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the world who suffer from food allergies. The most common food allergies include milk, peanut, fish, shellfish, egg, soy, wheat and nuts. It is important to know if you have a food allergy so that you can properly treat it and avoid coming in contact with that product. There are a few things that you can do in order to identify a food allergy.

Things You'll Need

  • Assessment
  • Physical examination
  • Allergy tests


    • 1

      Determine if you have any of the symptoms of a food allergy. Food allergies normally happen within several minutes to an hour after eating that particular food. Some of the most common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, wheezing, swelling of the lips, tongue, throat and face, hives, itching inside of the mouth and problems breathing and swallowing. Additional symptoms may include a sudden drop in your blood pressure, rapid pulse, weakness and feeling light-headed.

    • 2

      Create a list of your symptoms. Be sure to write down all of your symptoms, how often they occur, the severity of the symptoms and the food that you ate prior to experiencing the allergic reactions. Be sure to keep this list is a safe place and take it with you to your next doctor’s appointment.

    • 3

      Visit an allergy doctor to discuss your condition. In order to properly identify a food allergy, you should visit an allergist or allergy specialist for a diagnosis. The allergist can examine you and give you certain tests in order to pinpoint the food allergy. Your primary medical doctor or healthcare provider can refer you to an appropriate allergist.

    • 4

      Complete the assessment and testing process. Your doctor begins by asking you about your symptoms, allergic reactions and your current health status and diet. He also gives you a physical examination and allergy tests, which may include skin tests, blood tests (ELISA and RAST allergy tests), an elimination diet and food challenges.

    • 5

      Discuss the results with your doctor. It may take up to two weeks or longer to complete the entire allergy testing process. However, after your doctor evaluates your test results she can identify the food allergy and discuss treatment options with you.

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