An autoimmune disease is a condition that results when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body. The immune system normally fights off bacteria and viruses. When the immune system senses these gems it sends out fighter cells and produces antibodies to attack them. Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign organisms and your own cells. However, food allergies can trick the body and lead to the production of antibodies normally made to fight off bacteria and viruses. The body organ attacked determines the clinical diagnosis of the autoimmune disease. If the antibodies attack the skin it leads to eczema, if they attack the joints it leads to rheumatoid arthritis, if they attack the thyroid gland it leads to Hashimoto’s Disease and so forth.
Fool allergy symptoms are vast and include runny nose, puffy eyes, postnasal drip, sneezing, congestion, coughing, recurrent upper respiratory infections, recurrent ear infections, conjunctivitis, Itchy/watery/red eyes, headaches, depression, anxiety, mood swings, skin problems, loss of taste and smell, low productivity, poor concentration, brain fog, hyperactivity, restlessness, fatigue, sleep disturbances, snoring, sluggishness, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, body aches, hair loss, and hoarseness.
Conditions Associated With or Made Worse by Food Allergies:
Many chronic medical diseases are caused or made worse by food allergies. Some of these conditions include adrenal dysfunction, heart disease, obesity, hypertension, kidney disease, major depression, anxiety disorders, migraines, Celiacs Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, anemia, diabetes, infertility, endometriosis, cancer, sexual dysfunction, PMS, Lupus, Myasthenia Gravis, Muscular Sclerosis, thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma, pneumonia, ADHD, sinusitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
What Are Allergies?
An allergy is the body’s response to an antigen. An allergen is a type of antigen, a harmful foreign substance that causes the body to produce an immune response in the same way that it would to a virus or bacteria. The body may respond by making various antibodies, IgE, IgG and IgM and mobilizing specialized immune cells. Common allergens include food, dust, pollen, drugs, insects, mold and pet dander. An allergy is not usually passed down through families (inherited) but you are also likely to have the same allergies as your parents.
Delayed Reactions From Food Allergies
Many people aren’t aware that they have food allergies. An allergic reaction can take up to two days to occur after eating the offending food. A delayed reaction results when IgG antibodies are produced, while an immediate reaction occurs when IgE antibodies are released. This delayed response makes it difficult to associate symptoms with the culprit food. The other difficulty is that food allergies can cause a wide variety of symptoms that are not as obvious as IgE mediated responses like hives or anaphylactic shock. Underlying conditions can promote the development of food allergies. A leaky gut, and low digestive enzymes and stomach acid may allow intact food proteins to be absorbed into the bloodstream causing an allergic reaction. Intestinal infections caused by yeast, bacteria, or parasites can also cause a problem. Correcting these underlying problems is the key to treating food allergies.
Common Food Allergens
The foods that people are most commonly allergic to include dairy, eggs, wheat and gluten. Other common allergens include peanuts, corn, soy, citrus fruits, tomato, potato, pepper, coffee, tea, chocolate, yeast, beans, and nuts. In most cases, the foods that one is allergic to are those that are consumed on a regular basis. The more frequently you eat a food, the more likely you are to become allergic to it. Food allergies can lead to food addiction, which may make one feel initially better after consuming the food while avoiding the food can produce withdrawal symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed previously, you may be allergic to food, something in your environment, or an inhalant (anything in the air). Allergy testing is a simple process that we perform at our office for patients 6 years and older. The results are the same day and we do accept insurance for testing. Our practice can work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan to address your symptoms and diagnoses. If you think allergy testing is right for you or someone in your family, the next step is to contact our office at 678-443-4000 today.
Learn more about Blood Food Allergy Testing
Blood allergy testing is used to identify allergens, which may cause brain inflammation and brain disorders. There are many different options when it comes to diagnosing food allergies. The most commonly used tests include skin prick tests, allergy elimination/challenge tests, and blood antibody testing
Millions of Americans are allergic to something: whether its seasonal allergies, pets, food or possibly dust in the house. Blood allergy testing can assist in discovering what triggers your allergy symptoms and we choose the best treatment for you.
Food Allergy Blood Tests
Blood tests measure the presence of IgE antibodies to specific foods. (IgE, short for immunoglobulin E, is the antibody that triggers food allergy symptoms.) In the past, these tests were called RASTs (which stands for radioallergosorbent tests) because they used radioactivity, but modern tests do not.
Blood Tests vs. Skin Tests
Both the blood test and the skin prick tests detect food-specific IgE. Unlike the skin prick test, the blood test is not affected by antihistamines and can be performed for people with extensive rashes that prevent using skin tests.
Skin Prick Tests
Skin prick tests, while widely used by allergists to diagnose respiratory and environmental allergies, are not an accurate way to test for food allergies except in the case of the immediate, life-threatening type of reaction. Unfortunately, the majority of people with food allergies do not have this type of reaction.
Allergy Elimination Diet
The elimination/challenge diet is free and highly accurate but it is difficult to follow. It requires eliminating all potentially allergic foods for a period of time, usually two weeks, and then challenging oneself slowly with each of the foods. For this test to be effective, most or all allergic foods must be eliminated and the food challenges must be spaced adequately far apart. If done properly, a person will feel better after eliminating the allergic foods for 5-7 days, and then feel worse within 1-2 days of challenging with the suspect food.
Another strategy to alleviate allergy symptoms is to stay clear of alcohol and other histamine containing foods. As far as alcohol goes, wine (both red and white) seems to be the worst culprits. Sulfites are part of the problems with these drinks, but histamines that result during the fermentation process also wreak havoc. If you suffer from allergies, consider avoiding foods subject to aging and fermentation like wine, cheese, cider, pickles, and sauerkraut. Yeast, also a common allergen found in aged, fermented and baked goods, should be avoided.
Blood Antibody Tests
Blood antibody testing may identify allergens undetected by skin prick testing, which involves testing a sample of the person’s blood with a variety of different foods in the laboratory. Typically, blood testing measures immune antibodies. which may include IgE, IgG, IgA, and IgM.
Skin Allergy Testing
A standard skin test produces immediate results and is easy to interpret. The prick method is the most common type of skin test. A drop of standardized allergen extract is placed on the skin usually the back and a needle is passed through the extract to make a tiny puncture in the skin. If the patient has IgE antibodies to the allergen, a hive will appear at the site within about 15 minutes. This method is safe and causes very little discomfort.
The intradermal skin test is another type of skin test. A syringe is used to inject allergen extract into the top layer of the skin, which raises a small bubble on the surface. The result is similar to the prick test. Intra=dermal tests are usually placed on the upper arm, so fewer allergens can be tested simultaneously. This process involves injecting a small number of allergens under the first layer of the skin. A hive will appear in about 15 minutes if IgE antibodies are present.
RAST Allergy Testing
The radioallergosorbent (RAST) test, a blood test done in a laboratory, can be used in combination with the skin tests to detect allergies. Some skin conditions make skin testing impossible, or the physician might suspect that a patient is so sensitive to an allergen that a skin test could be dangerous. Positive skin or RAST tests will help narrow the list of suspected allergens, but the patient’s history is vital in determining which of the positive results are relevant. A challenge test may also be needed. If the patient’s allergic reactions haven’t been severe, the physician might deliberately expose the patient to one or more substances that produced a positive skin or RAST test. This is particularly true with food allergies.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (Allergy Drops)
Sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) is the name given to allergens that are administered orally. Allergen immunotherapy is a preventative treatment to relieve allergy symptoms caused by allergens such as pollens, molds, dust mites, and animal dander. After performing allergy testing to identify your allergies, we can then customize your sublingual immunotherapy.
Medications such as antihistamines and nasal sprays treat the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and other allergy-related disorders. Immunotherapy, on the other hand, induces a natural immunity or tolerance to the allergen. The gradual introduction of the offending allergen to the patient reduces the allergic symptoms and lessens the need for medications. Until recently, the only way to successfully administer allergen immunotherapy in the United States was by injections (allergy shots) at the doctor’s office. Sublingual immunotherapy is now being introduced in the United States and is an injection-free treatment that offers you the freedom to treat your allergies effectively in your own home.
Some Benefits of Sublingual Immunotherapy
- Can induce a natural immunity or tolerance to the allergen*
- Effective in patients with allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and other allergic disorders*
- Reduction in number of upper respiratory infections*
- Less need for the use of medications to control your allergies*
- Improvement of medical conditions and symptoms associated with allergies*
- Improved quality of life compared to standard medical therapy*
- More cost-effective*
- Avoids the discomfort of injections and associated local reactions*
- Allows the treatment to be administered at home, which saves you travel time and expense of coming into clinic*
- Less potential for a systemic anaphylactic reaction, and regarded as being very safe**Results may vary
Rotation diets are a good way of preventing food allergies from developing in the first place and are the best way to reintroduce foods for those who have been on an elimination diet. One of the primary reasons that people develop food allergies is from eating the same foods day in and day out. It is no coincidence that dairy and wheat, the most common foods in the American diet, are also the most common food allergens. Rotation diets solve this problem by cycling foods through the diet every 4-5 days. A person allergic to dairy, for example, could only eat dairy once every 4-5 days. Most people are able to tolerate their allergic foods on an occasional or rotation basis after giving their immune system 3-6 months to calm down.
Natural Supplements That Help Food Allergies
Natural supplements can be especially useful in helping to treat allergies. They include vitamin C and quercetin, which are potent natural anti-histamines and anti-inflammatories, glutamine (an amino acid that heals the lining of the gut), milk thistle (an herbal medicine that protects and restores liver function), and inulin (a vegetable fiber that promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut). These natural products have potent anti-allergic properties in the gut and body. Therefore they help to reduce allergic sensitivity when used in conjunction with an allergy elimination diet.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.