If you suspect a food allergy, then you are probably wondering about getting an allergy test done. I have learned, after hearing from many other moms that unfortunately, my experience is not unique- When I suspected Caleb had food allergies, I tried to speak to my regular family physician, and got absolutely NO help from him! He actually went on a tangent about how people should not be drinking cow milk anyways, and when I asked about getting an allergy test he not only said that they don’t do them, but would not even give me a reference to someone who would! It was a really frustrating visit needless to say! So, I pulled out the yellow pages and started calling until I found an allergist who saw children. IF you think your child is having a food allergy, then PLEASE MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR AN ALLERGY TEST!!! It is far better to know what you are facing than to be wondering and guessing! If you need a referral, you can usually take care of that with a phone call to your regular physician.
There are basically two types of tests that you can have done, a RAST or CAP RAST, which requires drawing blood, then testing it for antibodies to the specific allergens. The CAP RAST test is more specific, as it measures the amount of antibodies, which can help predict if allergies are improving or worsening over time. One the pro side of the argument, you get more specific information using this test, but it also takes a few weeks for results in most cases.
The most common way to test for allergens is to do the “scratch-test” which is equivalent to scratching with a fingernail, it can be done on any age group, even infants, and it gives results in 5-20 minutes. The allergens are set up on mini racks of testing brushes then quickly poked along the test site, either an arm or the back usually. The allergist will usually mark a test patch with histamine to measure the reaction, and a clear patch, then the test sites. After waiting without scratching the sites, the Doctor will measure the size of welts, and redness around each test site to determine the allergy. IF you have had a severe reaction to something, say, peanuts, let them know as they may try the test with a weaker test solution of the allergen than regular-full strength test. You may also want to bring something to entertain your child as well. When I brought my boys in to be tested I brought along the Ipod Touch so they could watch shows or play games while waiting for the test results. You may want to bring along some Benadryl for after the visit as well.