TESTING FOR ALLERGIES & FOOD INTOLERANCES
Allergy is an exaggerated reaction from our immune system after being exposed to certain substances, called allergens, in susceptible individuals, causing localized or generalized inflammation.
There are many different forms of allergies ranging from a specific food intolerance, hay fever (pollen allergy) and allergic conjunctivitis, to life-threatening anaphylaxis or generalized allergic reaction.
Around 30% of the population will experience some type of allergy at some time during their lives. More than 15% of people suffer from hay fever, and more than 1 in 6 children have skin conditions linked with allergies, such as atopic dermatitis or eczema. In addition to this asthma is very common in children, which in the UK affects more than 15% of all children. Food allergies, especially to peanuts, eggs, shellfish, wheat, milk, seeds, fruits, etc., are increasing, becoming more and more common, as well as insect allergies like bee, hornet, or wasp stings. Allergy to house dust mite is also very common and increasing.
Very common food intolerance is gluten allergy, which is contained in wheat causing coeliac disease with severe gastrointestinal symptoms, but also it might manifest itself as dermatitis herpetiformis, when the skin is severely affected. Avoiding gluten will resolve both.
Atopy is an allergic reaction affecting parts of the body which have not been in direct contact with the responsible agent. It usually runs in families and is linked to conditions like eczema, asthma, urticaria (nettle rash) and hay fever.
Many people are also allergic to medicines, like antibiotics (penicillin) and can sometimes be a problem when treating these patients.
There are a number of different types of allergic reactions or food intolerances:
· Mediated by Ig E (Immunoglobulin E) or also known as Type I, which is the most common. It is a reaction that happens almost immediately after the exposure to the food or allergen, and symptoms usually affect a single organ or system such as swelling around the mouth, itching, rashes, gastroenterological symptoms like abdominal pain, sickness, vomiting and diarrhoea, runny nose, breathing difficulties, swellings, etc. In severe cases, the reaction can be systemic causing anaphylaxis.
· Type IV hypersensitivity or delayed allergic reactions such as the exacerbation of eczema by dairy products.
· Non allergic food intolerances caused by toxins and drugs, like food poisoning.
Very useful tests to detect allergies include a blood test that would measure the levels of a specific Ig E. We offer these tests at Freedomhealth and we could test for hundreds of different allergens like foods, inhalants or insects. If there is a high suspicion of having an allergy to a specific agent, we can test for almost anything.
We offer a specific eczema provoking profile, a rhinitis provoking profile, an inhalant and grass profile, a food profile, nut and seeds profile, a cereal profile, shellfish and fish profiles, antibiotic allergy profile, insect bite profile, as well as a comprehensive food and inhalant profile (covering more than 50 different allergens). We normally get all the results within 48 hours.
These are the different allergy profiles that we offered to our patients at Freedomhealth:
· ECZEMA PROVOKING PROFILE tests for allergies to Cat Dander, Egg White, Egg Yolk, Fish, Hazelnut, House Dust Mite, Milk, Peanut and Soya Bean.
Consultation plus £142
· RHINITIS PROVOKING PROFILE tests for allergies to Birch, Cat Dander, Dog Dander, Egg White, Egg Yolk, House Dust Mite, Milk, Nettle, Peanut and Timothy Grass.
Consultation plus £142
· FOOD AND INHALANT PROFILE tests for allergies to Grass Mix (Cocksfoot, Meadow Fescue, Meadow, Rye, Timothy), Weed Mix (Rag weeds), Mould Mix (Aspergillus, Candida, Cladosporum, Helminthosporium, Penicillum), Dust Mix, Beef, Bermuda Grass, Cast Dander, Cheese, Chicken, Clam, Silver Birch, Corn, Milk, Crab, Dog Dander, Egg White, Plantain, Cod, Hazel Nut, Horse Dander, Lambs Quarters, Lemon, Lime, London Plane, Mesquite, Nettle, Oat, Olive, Orange, Peanut, Rice, Prawns, Soya Bean, Wall Pellitory, Wheat and Yeast.
Consultation plus £375
· FOOD PROFILE tests for allergies to Beef, Chicken, Codfish, Cow’s Milk, Egg White, Egg Yolk, Kiwi, Lamb, Peanut, Pork, Potato, Salmon, Sesame, Soya and Wheat.
Consultation plus £235
· NUT AND SEED PROFILE tests for allergies to Almond, Brazil Nut, Cashew, Chickpeas, Sweet Chestnut, Hazel Nut, Horse Chestnut, Lentil, Lupine Seed, Macadamia Nut, Mustard Seed, Peanut, Pecan, Pistachio, Pine Nut, Poppy Seed, Pumpkin Seed, Sesame Seed, Soya Peas, Sunflower Seed and Walnut.
Consultation plus £325
· INHALANT PROFILE tests for allergies to A. Alternata, Aspergillus, Bermuda Grass, Birch Pollen, Cat Dander, Cladosporum, Cockroach, Cocksfoot, Common Ragweed, Common Reed, Cultivated Rye, Derma farinae, Dog Dander, House Dust Mite, Horse Dander, Japanese Cedar, Meadow Fescue, Mugwort, Nettle, Olive Tree, Parietaria, Rapeseed Pollen, Rye Grass and Timothy Grass.
Consultation plus £345
· CEREAL PROFILE tests for allergies to Barley, Buckwheat, Corn, Oat, Rice, Rye and Wheat.
Consultation plus £155
· SHELLFISH PROFILE tests for allergies to Abalone, Blue Mussel, Clam, Crab, Crayfish, Lobster, Octopus, Oyster, Prawn, Scallop, Snail, Spiny Lobster and Squid.
Consultation plus £200
· FISH PROFILE tests for allergies to Anasakis, Cod, Haddock, Hake, Halibut, Herring, Jack Mackerel, Mackerel, Plaice, Red Snapper, Salmon, Sardine, Sole, Swordfish, Trout and Tuna.
Consultation plus £265
· INSECT PROFILE tests for allergies to Common Wasp, Yellow Jacket, Honey Bee, Horsefly, Mosquito, Paper Wasp, Yellow Hornet and White Face Hornet.
Consultation plus £125
· ANTIBIOTIC PROFILE tests for allergies to Ampicillin, Amoxicillin, Cefaclor, Penicillin G and Penicillin V.
Consultation plus £135
We can also tailor the tests to the specific patient and we can test an allergy to almost anything. We have individual tests capable of detecting allergies to over 600 different allergens.
A skin prick test can also be useful to determine common allergies such as house dust mite, cat, dog and grass, as well as for detecting hypersensitivity to egg, milk, peanut and wheat. A small drop of liquid or solid food is put on the skin of the forearm. Then a needle is used to prick the skin through the solution. A saline solution is used as control at a different location on the forearm. After 15 minutes, one would expect a possible skin reaction. A reaction on the skin greater than 2 mm greater than the one with the control can be considered positive.
A patch test is also available for diagnosing conditions like allergic contact dermatitis. This can be done either using specific suspected allergens or a "standard set". A skin reaction after 48-72 hours would indicate a positive result to that specific agent.
It is important to avoid taking any antihistamines or steroids at least one week before having any of these tests mentioned above.
The foods most frequently linked to allergy and intolerance are: Cows' milk, Hens' eggs, Cod, Shrimps and other shellfish, Peanuts, Tree nuts, Soya beans, Wheat and Food additives. The majority of children would have grown out of their allergy to most foods (eggs, milk, wheat, and soya) by the ages of 3 to 5 years. In the case of adults with a food allergy, tolerance can be developed following correct specific food avoidance diets. About 30% of people can lose their reactivity after a couple of years of these elimination diets. Allergy to peanuts, seafood, fish, gluten and nuts is very rarely lost.