It is estimated that between 6 to 8 percent of children about 3 percent of adults in the United States have some type of food allergy or food allergies. This number is consistent with the number of adults and children that we treat in our Charlotte, NC office for these types of issues.
Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?
Many people confuse the terms food allergy and food intolerance. A food allergy includes a reaction by the immune system to a particular food, or actually a component of a food, that can be mild and uncomfortable or it can be very significant and even life threatening. Typically food allergies are rapid onset after the consumption of the food and rarely take more than two hours to develop.
A food intolerance, on the other hand, is a hypersensitivity to a particular food or compound in a food that results in problems with digestion. It does not involve the immune system and, while it may cause discomfort in the form of bloating, gas, headaches, hives and flu-like symptoms it is not life threatening. Food intolerance may take a short or long time for the symptoms to show after the food has been consumed.
Testing for Food Allergies in Charlotte, NC
If your doctor believes that you have food allergies he or she will typically ask for you to complete blood tests and skin pricks tests to see if your body reacts to specific known problematic foods. The vast majority of all food allergies, approximately 90%, are from eggs, wheat, milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.
If these tests are not definitive you may be asked to take a food challenge test where your doctor will monitor your body’s reactions when you eat small amounts of specific foods. Since people with food allergies can have a severe reaction this should only be done at our Charlotte, NC office under the care and supervision of our qualified medical staff.