Have you ever asked yourself or wondered, “Do I have a food allergy?” When you suspect a food allergy it is tempting to self-diagnose, but what you may be doing is creating dietary restrictions that can lead to inadequate nutrition. Whether you believe you or someone you know has a food allergy, it’s important to be evaluated and properly diagnosed by a board-certified allergist.
The number of U.S. adults self-diagnosing food allergies is increasing. Self-reports of food allergy increased about 4 percent between 2001 and 2010, according to findings in the Asthma and Allergy Proceedings. Additionally, according to a national survey conducted by the Toluna Group, one in four reported they would search the internet or visit a health-related website first for food allergy information .
There are multiple steps taken by an allergist to diagnose a patient.
- The allergist will first ask detailed questions about medical history and symptoms.
- After discussing medical history, the allergist will conduct tests to identify the food allergy. These procedures could include skin prick testing, blood tests or oral food challenges. The results from these tests will be used by the allergist to make a diagnosis.
- If there is a positive result to the suspected food, the allergist will discuss ways to effectively manage a food allergy.
It’s important to remember that 96 percent of adults and teens and 95 percent of children do not have a food allergy. In fact, less than one percent of Americans have a peanut allergy. If you believe you have a food allergy or are experiencing symptoms after eating certain foods, it’s recommended to seek a board-certified allergist for a proper evaluation. Start your search by asking your primary care provider for a referral. You can also search for an allergist near you by visiting the physician directory provided by the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology .
For more information on accurately diagnosing a food allergy and effectively managing a food allergy, visit www.foodallergyawareness.org/campaignhome/.
 L. Verrill, R. Bruns, S. Luccioli. (2015). Prevalence of self-reported food allergy in U.S. adults: 2001, 2006, and 2010. Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, Volume 36, pp. 458-467.
 The Toluna Group, Food Allergy Survey. 2015 National Survey of 1,031 American Adults.
 American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology. Physician Directory;http://acaai.org/locate-an-allergist.