Food allergies have become more common, and for some people, these allergies can be life-threatening. At Clear Allergy in Culver City, California, experienced allergists, Katie Marks-Cogan, MD, FACAAI, and Raffi Tachdjian, MD, MPH, FAAAAI, offer solutions. Using the most advanced diagnostic methods, the doctors determine your triggers and provide the best education to help you manage food allergies and prevent serious health complications. Learn more about managing food allergies by calling the office or requesting an appointment online.
Food allergies occur when the body's immune system reacts abnormally to a protein found in a food, creating antibodies to fight what it perceives as a “foreign invader.” These antibodies can help our cells cause a reaction each time a person eats a food they are allergic to.
Food allergies can cause a number of symptoms that vary from mild to severe, including:
When the symptoms are severe and involving more than one organ system it’s classified as anaphylaxis, and this can be life-threatening. People with known severe food allergies typically carry a pen-like autoinjector that can be used to administer an emergency dose of epinephrine to help keep symptoms under control while emergency care is sought.
The symptoms mentioned above usually occur within seconds to minutes and almost always within two hours. In addition, one reaction can vary widely from the next in the same person. One cannot predict what type of reaction a person will have each time they eat a food that they are allergic to.
After a review of your symptoms and medical history, Dr. Marks-Cogan and Dr. Tachdjian may recommend one or more tests to identify foods causing a reaction by your immune system.
You may benefit from scratch testing that involves gently scratching the skin, then putting a drop of allergen on the area. Your skin is monitored for any sign of reaction, such as a small or large hive that indicates an existing allergy. Sometimes blood tests are used to check for food allergies, too.
The doctors also offer oral food challenge testing, a medically supervised procedure where you eat certain foods, gradually increasing their amounts to determine how your body reacts. Dr. Marks-Cogan and Dr. Tachdjian carefully monitor your health during this type of test and can confirm or rule out which foods are producing an allergic response.
Once your specific food allergies are identified, your treatment is avoidance in most cases. You'll need to completely avoid the foods to prevent future reactions. The doctors at Clear Allergy will spend time educating you on how to manage a food allergy. They'll also set up a plan to determine how often you will need to be re-evaluated to determine if you've "outgrown" a food allergy. Depending on the foods, you may need to read food labels to avoid being exposed to even tiny amounts of the food proteins that cause your allergy.
If you suspect you’re allergic to foods, the allergists at Clear Allergy can help you know for sure. Contact the practice to set up a consultation by phoning our office or using the online booking tool.