Testing yourself for food allergies

If you think you may have a case of food allergies on your hands and have noticed allergy symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; headache; fatigue; postnasal drip; runny, stuffy, or itchy nose; sore throat; dark circles under the eyes; an itchy feeling in the mouth or throat; abdominal pain; diarrhoea; and the appearance of an itchy, red skin rash that seem to be related to your food intake, you can try self treatment of your allergy symptoms first.

Once you are sure your allergies are food-related

Allergy treatments should take account of the severity of your allergic symptoms, but in most cases, when caught early, can be self-treated through dietary practices. A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Allergy symptoms tend to increase with time, from affecting few food products at the start. However, anaphylaxis involves a sudden, severe systemic allergic reaction that can involve various areas of the body at the same time (such as the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and cardiovascular system. You should not attempt to self-cure such a case of allergy symptoms! See below for self-testing advice:

Hypoallerginic dieting

A low-allergen diet, also known as an elimination diet or a hypoallergenic diet is often recommended to people with suspected food allergies to find out if avoiding foods that commonly trigger allergies will provide relief from symptoms. Although an individual could be allergic to any food, such as fruits, vegetables, and meats, there are eight foods that account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions. These are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut (walnut, cashew, etc.), fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. This diet eliminates foods and food additives considered to be common allergens, including food coloring and preservatives, coffee, and chocolate. Some popular books offer guidance to people who want to attempt this type of diet.

A diagnostic tool

The low-allergen diet is not an allergy treatment for people with food allergy symptoms, however. Rather, it is a tool used to help discover which foods a person is sensitive to. It is maintained only until a reaction to a food or foods has been diagnosed or ruled out. Once food reactions have been identified, only those foods that are causing a reaction are subsequently avoided; all other foods that had previously been eaten are once again added to the diet.

Withdrawing the offending foods

While individual recommendations regarding how long a low-allergen diet should be adhered to vary from five days to three weeks, many nutritionally oriented doctors believe that a two-week trial is generally sufficient for the purpose of diagnosing food reactions. Strict avoidance of allergenic foods for a certain period of time sometimes results in the foods no longer causing allergic reactions, thus providing an all in one allergy treatment. Restrictive elimination diets and food reintroduction should be supervised by a qualified healthcare professional, who than then provide more information on allergy treatment in your particular case.

Careful eating is the key

Once you know the cause of your allergy, you should pay attention that the ingredient in question doesn’t slip back into your diet by accident. Strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food is the only way to avoid a reaction. Allergy treatment is a painstaking process. Reading ingredient labels for all foods is the key to maintaining control over the allergy. If a product doesn’t have a label, allergic individuals should not eat that food. If a label contains unfamiliar terms, shoppers must call the manufacturer and ask for a definition or avoid eating that food.