You may know exactly which foods you’re allergic to. But if you or your child have food allergies and aren’t sure which foods are to blame, allergy testing can help you identify them.
Make an appointment with a board-certified allergist. First the doctor will ask you questions about what you think you’re allergic to and your symptoms. Sometimes that’s enough to identify the problem food, or he may suggest allergy testing.
Alternaria. Aspergillus. Cladosporium. Penicillium. Unless you have a special fondness for fungi, you’re probably not too familiar with these or any of the thousands of other common molds.
But if you’re among the estimated 5% of Americans who have mold allergies, you may be all too well acquainted with the itchy eyes, nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, skin irritation, and other symptoms mold allergies can cause. Severe mold allergies can even trigger potentially dangerous asthma attacks.
Allergy testing can help your doctor figure out what you're allergic to, but it's not foolproof. After your tests are done, you'll need to work with your doctor to get the right diagnosis.
Skin Testing or Skin Prick Test
Skin testing is the most common and quickest food allergy test. Your doctor can test you for several foods at the same time.
First, the doctor puts a very small drop of liquid containing the food on your skin and pricks it. Then the doctor will watch for a reaction – a small bump that may get red like a mosquito bite.
If your skin reacts, you’re likely allergic to that food. You’ll want to avoid it and your doctor can talk with you about other treatment options. If you don’t react, good news! You’re probably not allergic to that food.
Blood Tests for Allergies
For this test, your doctor will take a sample of your blood and expose it to different types of allergens. You won’t learn the results right away. This test is often sent to a lab and results could take a week or more.
Doctors don't use it as often. They may use it if they have an idea of what you’re allergic to and it is only one or two specific things. Or they use this test if they are worried you have a severe allergy. That way, you don’t have to be exposed to the possible trigger.
Neither skin nor blood tests can accurately predict how severe a food allergy reaction may be.