Diagnosing Food Allergies (Again)

By Heather Legg

I know I’ve posted on this topic before, but after reading another article on diagnosing food allergies, it makes wonder what the future will be. According to a piece in the current issue of Time Magazine (Dec 20, 2010), Surveys suggest that the rate of food allergies is on the rise in the U.S., but experts say up to 90% of those allergies may be misdiagnosed cases of sensitivity to or intolerance of common foods like peanuts, milk and soy.

We all are familiar with the skin prick test and the blood test for food allergies. Many experts are saying the skin test is not really valid, now that is overflowing with the blood test, too. In this article, it is stated that these are good for identifying sensitivities, but cannot really differentiate if they are true allergies or not. The only way to truly confirm a full blown allergy can be diagnosed is if the child ingests the potentially problematic food. This, of course, is quite frightening to anyone familiar with allergies. It also should be clear that this should only be in a doctor’s office where treatment can be administered if needed.

I am guessing that parents of children, or adults themselves, know if they are truly allergic if they have experienced a real allergic reaction. If a child has been rushed to the hospital after eating peanuts as his face swelled up, I imagine that is food challenge enough. But I wonder about patients like my daughter. Her mouth has itched and she used to get hives every so often, but nothing in the past few years. Is she truly allergic anymore? Do I have the guts to do a food challenge on her?

After her NAET treatment, we went as far as having her lick some walnut oil, no reaction. The practitioner was comfortable with her eating nuts in her office, but we parents weren’t, neither was my then very young daughter. I’m still wary of it, but wouldn’t it be nice to clearly know one way or another? So many people steer clear from certain foods, and maybe it isn’t so necessary. So many precautions are taken, and while they are definitely  necessary for some people who do have severe allergies, just because it shows up on a skin test does not seem to mean there is anaphylactic potential.

I wonder how these studies will play out in the medical community and then the allergy community. Will parents allow food challenges? Will doctors advise them? Will skin tests for food allergies become a thing of the past? As we see certain groups like the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases take on these questions, I look forward to their findings and recommendations for guidelines of diagnosis.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2036153,00.html#ixzz18P91CiWf

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