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Allergies Health Center

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Topic Overview

How is a peanut allergy diagnosed? continued...

It's important to find out whether you have a food allergy or food intolerance. Your doctor may ask you to keep a record of all the foods you eat and any reactions to the foods. Your doctor will also consider if your reaction could have been caused by things like allergies to medicines or insect stings, food poisoning, irritants in foods, and exposure to skin irritants.

Your doctor may ask you to try an elimination diet, an oral food allergy challenge, or both.

  • In an elimination diet, you avoid eating foods that may be causing an allergic reaction and see if your symptoms go away. If symptoms come back when you eat the food again, your doctor can confirm your food allergy. The elimination diet can last from 2 to 8 weeks.
  • In an oral food allergy challenge, you eat a variety of foods that may or may not cause an allergic reaction. Your doctor watches to see if and when a reaction occurs. This test is considered the best way to diagnose a food allergy.

You may also have allergy tests, such as skin tests or blood tests, to determine what foods you are allergic to after you have been diagnosed with having a food allergy.

How is it treated?

If you accidentally eat a peanut, follow your doctor's instructions. For a mild reaction, you may only need to take an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine hydrochloride (Benadryl), to reduce your symptoms of a runny nose or itchy skin.

If your allergic reaction is more severe, follow the anaphylaxis action plan from your doctor for this type of reaction. If you have had a severe reaction previously, your doctor has probably prescribed a medicine called epinephrine. Give yourself the epinephrine shot, and call 911 for further instructions.

For more information on how to give an epinephrine shot, see:

actionset.gif Allergies: Giving Yourself an Epinephrine Shot.
actionset.gif Allergies in Children: Giving an Epinephrine Shot to a Child.

Even if you feel better after giving yourself the shot, symptoms of anaphylaxis can recur or suddenly appear hours later. You need to be observed in a hospital for several hours after your symptoms go away.

If you do not have epinephrine and are having a severe allergic reaction, call911immediately.

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