Food allergies have generated a great deal of anxiety over the years. Some people are afraid to try a new restaurant in town, while others stick to the dishes they are most comfortable with (primarily because they know it is safe to eat them).
Food allergies occur when a sensitive person eats, inhales, or comes into contact with even tiny amounts of certain foods. Allergic reactions may range from very mild to life-threatening ones.
Unfortunately, food allergies are becoming more and more common. There has been an increase in severe food allergy cases in the last 10 years. In children, the most common food allergies are cow’s milk, hen’s eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soybeans, and wheat. Meanwhile, the most common food allergies in adults are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustaceans (such as shrimp, crabs, and lobster), mollusks (such as clams, oysters, and mussels), fruits, and vegetables.
Allergic reactions occur after eating, inhaling, or coming into contact with the offending food. Symptoms may include reddening of the skin, hives, itchy skin, swollen lips or eyelids, tightness of the throat, wheezing, difficulty breathing, coughing, vomiting, and even diarrhea.
Luckily, having yourself tested may help you control your allergies. A blood test is now available to determine which food or foods in the basic food allergy panel trigger your body’s allergic reaction. When you come into contact with an allergy trigger, known as an allergen, your body makes antibodies against it. The antibodies tell cells in your body to release certain chemicals. These chemicals are what cause allergy symptoms. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is an antibody that’s strongly linked to the body’s allergy response.
An allergy blood test detects and measures the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in your blood. Allergies can cause an increase in certain types of white blood cells. Blood tests check your white blood cell counts. However, it is important to keep in mind that many other health conditions can cause an increase in white blood cells. Other blood tests may be ordered that measure the release of chemicals responsible for allergic reactions.
If you are experiencing severe allergic reactions that interfere with the way you live your life, now is the time to have yourself tested. Visit a medical lab near you as this one test can save your life.
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