As any guardian, you may have concerns that the food your child is eating is harmful to their overall health. You may be concerned that the food is unhealthy and/or high in calories, however, have you ever wondered if your child has a food allergy? Food allergies range from mild to life threatening, so it is important to consider allergy testing for children.

In this post, we will define two different types of adverse food reactions: food allergies and food intolerances. Defining these terms will be beneficial for monitoring your child. Also, after reading our post, you will have a better idea on how to identify a food allergy and food intolerance.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is what we may commonly think of when we think of an adverse reaction to food. You may picture someone experiencing a severe and sudden reaction to their food allergen. Often we think of anaphylactic shock, which is a life-threatening reaction characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure, airway constriction, dizziness, rapid heartbeat and a feeling of doom.

While this sometimes happens when someone has a food allergy, let’s structure the definition. A food allergy is a sudden onset of symptoms when exposed to a particular food allergen. Someone can be allergic to any food, however, allergies to milk, eggs, soy, wheat and nuts are very common. It is best to avoid food allergens since they can spark hives, trouble breathing and other symptoms that can sometimes lead to death.

What is a food intolerance?

Another type of adverse reaction to food is a food intolerance. While this still can spark symptoms of rashes and respiratory problems, a food intolerance symptom is often chronic and not obviously related to food. You may have a food intolerance and not even know it!

Food intolerances can be chronic and really impact your life. Since they are so ambiguous, you may not realize that a certain food is giving you issues and you may continue to eat this food, perpetuating the problem! For more information about food intolerances, click here.

Types of Tests Available

Regardless of which type of food reaction your child may have, allergy testing for children is available via the Internet and at the doctor’s office. If you’re still concerned that your child may have a food allergy or intolerance, ask your doctor about the following methods:

  • Keeping a food diary and recognizing patterns
  • Elimination diet with reintroduction of certain foods
  • Food intolerance test (blood test)
  • Skin prick test
  • Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Test (ALCAT)
  • Oral food challenges Mediator Release Test (MRT)
  • Allergy blood tests
  • Hydrogen Breath Test (HBT)
  • Gastric Juice Analysis Test

Your doctor will have a better idea about which test is appropriate and accurate for your child. As you may have guessed, some of these tests are more expensive and/or invasive than others. Even though food allergy testing for children may seem daunting, you can improve your child’s life!