Food allergies are quite common and typically involve allergic reactions to peanuts, milk, eggs, shellfish, soy, or wheat, although other foods can also be allergens. An allergic reaction is essentially an overreaction by the immune system to a food; the immune system identifies the harmless substance as being a foreign invader.
You can watch this video or consult an allergy doctor to hear about the chemical changes in the body that occur during an allergic reaction. This video explains how a type of antibody called immunoglobulin E binds to immune cells. In the presence of the food allergen, immunoglobulin E triggers the immune cells to release histamine, which causes allergy symptoms. Anaphylaxis, a severe reaction, may also occur.
If you have food allergies, you can call Allergy & Asthma Specialists℠ at 1(800)86-COUGH to schedule an appointment with an allergist in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Our allergy specialists look forward to helping you live life well.
It is possible for some patients to outgrow food allergies, even if allergy skin testing and blood tests remain positive. To find out if you have outgrown a food allergy, your allergy doctor may recommend that you undergo an oral food challenge. During an oral food challenge, you will consume the food under the watchful supervision of your allergy specialist to check whether a reaction will occur.
Benefits and Risks
Before deciding to go ahead with the oral food challenge, discuss the potential benefits and risks with your allergy doctor. If you have indeed outgrown your food allergy, then this test can allow you to expand your diet, which can certainly make it easier for you to prepare healthy meals. Of course, there is always the risk that an allergic reaction will occur. Your allergy doctor will be there to respond immediately if you show any symptoms.
Prior to the oral food challenge, you should discuss your current medications with your doctor. You may need to temporarily stop taking certain medicines, such as antihistamines. It’s important to note that if you experience an allergic reaction or an asthma attack, you should use your medications as usual. You can always postpone the test. On the day of the test, your doctor might ask that you arrive at the office with an empty stomach or that you consume only a light meal.
The doctor will check your vital signs before instructing you to consume a small serving of the food. You’ll be closely monitored for signs of a reaction for the next 15 to 30 minutes. If no reaction occurs, you’ll be given a slightly larger amount of food. This will continue until you are able to consume a meal-sized portion of the food.
If you display any symptoms, the test will immediately cease and the doctor will administer medications. Usually, when symptoms appear, they are mild because only a small amount of the food is initially given. If you do not have symptoms, your doctor may instruct you to regularly incorporate the food into your diet.
Allergy & Asthma Specialists℠ can conduct oral food challenges in our office or in a hospital setting. To discuss whether an oral food challenge may be appropriate for you or your child, you can speak with one of our allergists in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. You can reach us at 1(800)86-COUGH.
For patients and family members of patients, schedule at 1-800-86COUGH, option 2.
If you suspect you might have allergies, such as pollen, mold, dust mite, or animal dander, food allergies, or drug allergies, the sooner you schedule skin testing, the sooner you can get your condition under control. It is not necessary to wait until you experience an allergic reaction to call the allergy doctor. This is especially true for patients with possible seasonal allergies. If this applies to you, it’s best to schedule skin testing with an allergy doctor at least three to six months before the time during which you typically experience symptoms. This allows you to get started on your immunotherapy treatment before your symptoms occur.
When you schedule your allergy skin test, be sure to ask the allergist if you can continue taking your medications up to your appointment. Medications containing antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra and Benadryl can interfere with the results of the test. If you currently take antihistamines, you may not be able to have allergy skin testing performed until you have been off the medications for at least 5 days.
To schedule your allergy skin test, you can call Allergy & Asthma Specialists ℠ at 1(800)86-COUGH. Our allergy doctors are available in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
For most young students, going away to college is the first time they experience independent living away from the family home. This transition can be tough enough by itself, but for students with asthma or allergies, it can be particularly challenging. Despite the busy nature of college life, it’s important to stay on top of your health and follow your allergy or asthma treatment plan. Proper management of your condition begins with a visit to your allergy doctor.
Visiting Your Allergist
See your current allergy specialist before you leave for college. Go over your anaphylaxis treatment plan and make any adjustments that may be needed for your new environment. You should also make sure that all of your vaccines are up-to-date. Check the expiration dates on your rescue inhaler, auto-injector of epinephrine, and other medications, and get refills if necessary.
Transferring Medical Information
Ask your allergy doctor for a referral to a doctor near your school and request that your medical records be transferred there. You should also locate a pharmacy ahead of time. Check to see whether the campus has an on-site pharmacy or if you’ll need to go off-campus to refill your medications. Arrange to transfer your current prescriptions to that pharmacy. Make sure your school has the necessary medical paperwork about your conditions and coordinate with a college representative about any special accommodations you may need.
Living on Campus
When you arrive on campus and meet your roommate, provide him or her with a written list of your allergens that you need to avoid. You should also share this list with your resident assistant (RA). Next, if you have food allergies, you should tour the dining hall and speak with the chef about your special needs. You’ll need assurance that you have meal options that are free of your allergens and free of cross-contamination.
If you’ll be attending college in Pennsylvania, you can turn to the allergy doctors at Allergy & Asthma Specialists℠. We provide a comprehensive range of allergy testing, allergy treatment, and patient education services. Give us a call today at 1(800)86-COUGH to schedule a visit with an allergy doctor at our locations in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania.