Food challenges play an important role in diagnosing and guiding the treatment of food allergies. If skin and blood allergy tests are inconclusive, food challenges can provide additional insights. At Allergy Associates of Utah in Murray and West Jordan, Utah, allergy specialists Andrew Smith, MD, MS, and Tara Sarin, MD, provide food challenges to help you learn more about your allergies. To schedule an appointment, call the office nearest you, or book online today.
What are food challenges for allergies?
Food challenges or feeding tests are a type of screening used to accurately diagnose or rule out food allergies.
During a food challenge, you eat a specific type of food slowly under medical supervision. As the challenge progresses, you slowly increase your intake to see if the food triggers an allergic reaction.
Who can benefit from food challenges?
Dr. Smith and Dr. Sarin typically recommend food challenges for people experiencing digestive or other problems, such as:
- Hives or rash
- Itchy mouth or throat
- Facial swelling or redness
- Burning in the mouth or throat
- Difficulty breathing
If traditional allergy screenings, like blood or skin tests, don’t provide enough information, Dr. Smith or Dr. Sarin might recommend a food challenge to pinpoint the underlying cause of your symptoms.
Food challenges are unique in that they provide real-time information. After ingesting a specific food, Dr. Smith or Dr. Sarin watches you closely to see if it triggers symptoms or a noticeable reaction.
How do I prepare for a food challenge?
To participate in a food challenge, you need to be in good health. If you feel sick in any way, postpone your challenge.
In addition, it’s important to keep all of your underlying allergies, like hay fever, or asthma, under control. Make sure to take any medications as prescribed so they do not interfere with your food challenge.
If you take antihistamines regularly, stop taking them before your food challenge. Dr. Smith or Dr. Sarin can tell you when to stop based on your health history and individual needs.
What happens during a food challenge?
On the day of your food challenge at Allergy Associates of Utah, Dr. Smith or Dr. Sarin conducts a physical exam and checks your heart and respiratory rate. Afterward, you eat a small portion of a specific food and wait 15-30 minutes. If you don’t experience any symptoms after consuming the food, you eat a slightly larger amount.
Between each portion, Dr. Smith or Dr. Sarin carefully monitors your vital signs and looks for indications of an allergic reaction. If you develop symptoms at any time, Dr. Smith or Dr. Sarin stops the challenge and gives you medication as needed.
How long do food challenges take?
The length of time a food challenge takes depends on if you experience an allergic reaction. After you finish eating, Dr. Smith or Dr. Sarin carefully monitors you. If you experience a mild reaction, you can leave the office after an hour or two. More serious reactions may require extended observation of up to four hours.
To learn more about food challenges, schedule an appointment at Allergy Associates of Utah. Book a consultation online, or call the nearest office today.