Food allergy testing is used to measure the level of allergic antibody, known as IgE, to a food suspected of causing an allergic reaction. These blood tests are best used to predict the likelihood of an allergic reaction occurring in people who have had an allergic reaction to the food in question.
Interpretation of serum IgE test results by a board certified allergist with expertise in evaluation and management of food allergy is crucial to an accurate food allergy diagnosis, as false positive test results are common. Simply put, the detection of a positive serum IgE antibody to a food suggests a potential risk of an allergic reaction, but does not predict the severity of that reaction nor the amount of food required to trigger it.
Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is a type of antibody found in the lungs, skin, and mucous membranes. IgE binds to allergens such as pollens, insect venom, and foods, triggering the release of histamine and other substances that can cause allergic reactions ranging from sneezing to wheezing or even anaphylactic shock. In the food allergic individual, tiny amounts of food protein attach to IgE antibodies on mast cells found in these tissues, resulting in the release of histamine and other substances that cause the typical symptoms of an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an IgE-mediated allergic reaction typically start within a few minutes of ingesting the allergenic food. The most common foods accounting for more than 85% of allergic reactions include milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.
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