Some allergies are simple and obvious to identify. An immediate reaction after coming into contact with something say makes it all pretty clear. Sometimes though it’s more subtle, not as immediate, but still painful, uncomfortable or worrying. An allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to something in the environment that is usually harmless. In the case of food allergies, the immune system sees certain chemicals found in foods as ‘enemies’ and launches an immune response. It’s that immune response that means we experience the symptoms usually associated with allergies, like sneezing, rashes, watering eyes, runny nose etc.
Allergies can have such a negative impact on your life. If the allergy is severe or life threatening, it will overshadow a lot of everyday life. If it’s milder it’s less frightening, but if can still have a major impact on your life and how you live it. Some allergens are easier to avoid than others e.g. I have a friend who is allergic to strawberries and she finds them fairly easy to avoid, as they are usually in sweets and desserts. If she does make a mistake it isn’t the end of the world, as it’s a fairly mild reaction in the grand scheme of things, but still uncomfortable enough to avoid if she can.
Before you can tackle the allergy and the symptoms it causes, you need to identify it. There are two main ways to find out which foods are causing allergy symptoms: an elimination diet or allergy testing . The elimination diet works by fasting, or consuming foods which have a low allergic rate such as rice, lamb, cabbage for 4-7 days until symptoms clear, then reintroducing foods one at a time may point to the culprit. It obviously only works for food allergies and not other allergies. It’s not a quick process either. Allergy testing can be a skin test, a patch test or a blood test.
An allergy blood test is one of the most comprehensive ways to test for a wide range of allergens. The NHS offers a limited number of allergy tests as part of its service. So it’s no wonder that so many sufferers choose to try a private test. Many really like the idea of being able to carry out a test in the comfort of their own home, so home allergy tests are very popular. Test kits usually contain everything you need to take a test and then the sample is sent away to a lab to be processed.
Once you have the results of your home allergy test, you can take the next step to overcome your allergies. The results of any allergy test need to be interpreted by a doctor alongside your symptoms and your medical history. Your doctor will be able to advise you on any necessary follow-up action to fully diagnose you and come up with a treatment plan. But, the knowledge that that home allergy test brings gives you the power to do something about your allergy and eliminate the symptoms that come with it from your life.