Monday, August 8, 2011

Time to Re-Test for Food Allergies?

by Kelley Lindberg

My son’s best friend was re-tested for food allergies two weeks ago. We were all anxiously awaiting the results. He’s been allergic to several foods since he was a baby, and every time he’s re-tested, we all keep our fingers crossed that he’ll have outgrown even one or two. Although he’s 13, we were once again hoping he’d outgrow some of them this time.

So the big day came, and he went to a trusted board-certified allergist for a skin-prick test.

What the doctor learned is that he is still extremely reactive to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. We all have to admit, we were keeping our fingers crossed, and the fact that he is still allergic to so many foods is disappointing, even though we were emotionally prepared for that. And to add insult to injury, it looks like he might be allergic to flax now. (There is a greater risk for being allergic to flax if you’re already allergic to peanuts, I’ve heard.)

On the other hand, the doctor said it looks like our friend might be able to try raw tomatoes and sesame seeds in a food challenge to see if he can tolerate them now. So we were happy about that!

When it comes to food allergies, we are more than ready to celebrate even small victories. Being able to eat salsa made with fresh tomatoes will be a real treat for this boy (who loves commercial salsa with its high-heat processed tomatoes, which he can tolerate). And being able to tolerate sesame seeds will make finding safe hamburger buns a little easier for him, too.

So even though his big allergies (milk, eggs, nuts, fish) didn’t go away and he might have gained a new one, at least this time we’ve got a couple of his food allergies that we can be optimistic about. And if he has developed an allergy to flax, it’s better to find out in the doctor’s office and prepare for it, than have a sudden reaction somewhere and not have a clue what’s causing it.

His experience is a good reminder of how important it is to periodically re-test for food allergies, no matter how old the child (or adult) is.

Most allergists recommend children get re-tested once a year, but check with your allergist for your own particular needs. If it’s been over a year, it’s probably time to schedule a test with your allergist. Even if your child hasn’t outgrown any of his or her allergies, at least you’ll know for certain, and that brings its own type of confidence. And you never know… if he or she has outgrown one or more of her food allergies, that might make life just a little easier (and tastier) for both of you!

And that’s something worth celebrating.

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