Allergy and Asthma: Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find an allergist who can determine if the symptoms I have are caused by foods?
You will want to choose a certified allergist or, in the US, a board certified allergist. There are many professional allergy and asthma organizations that have referral directories of allergists. For example, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology can help you find an allergist with whom you are comfortable.
How will I know if I need a vitamin or mineral supplement?
It is best to have the help of your physician or dietitian when evaluating your need for or choosing supplements. Any diet that eliminates a major food group, like milk allergy, may require supplementation if appropriate substitute foods cannot provide the nutrients you need to maintain nutritional health.
Will the food allergy go away?
Strict avoidance of some food allergens in allergic children may result in the outgrowth of the allergy. However, most adults do not outgrow their food allergies.
A friend told me that my family has many food allergies because we eat out so much. Does eating out cause food allergies?
Eating out does not cause food allergies. However, foods eaten outside the home may have hidden sources of food allergens. Food allergens can be unknowingly introduced during food storage, handling and preparation in restaurants. If you are allergic to a food, it is extremely important that you become knowledgeable about hidden sources of that food's allergen. Before visiting a restaurant, call during their least busy time to discuss storage, handling, and preparation with the chef. Your goal is to identify possible allergens. Most restaurants are receptive and will change their procedures to help keep you safe. It is still important, however, to be prepared for emergencies.
Is it possible to have just a small amount of food that I am allergic to?
Some highly allergic individuals will react to any amount of food allergen. Others may be able to eat trace amounts without noticing any allergic symptoms. Therefore, the safest rule to follow is strict avoidance unless told otherwise by your allergist.
I think I am allergic to sugar. How can I get tested for this?
An allergy to sugar is not possible, although you may have read it is. The literature that discusses 'sugar allergy' has no scientific basis for 'allergy' as its conclusion. Allergic reactions occur in response to the protein component of a food. Sugar is a carbohydrate and contains no protein. If you think you are reacting to sugar, consult your physician. You may be experiencing another disorder, such as carbohydrate intolerance.
If I am allergic to milk can I just take the cheese off of a cheeseburger or pizza?
The cheeseburger or pizza will still be contaminated with the allergenic milk protein after the cheese has been picked off. In highly allergenic persons, this will cause an allergic reaction. It is safest to avoid any food that has come into contact with your food allergen.
Why do I have a reaction to a food sometimes but not every time I eat it?
There are many variables that determine the allergenicity of a food allergen. These can include the amount of allergen present in the food, how the food is prepared (cooked or with active cultures), if it is consumed on a empty or full stomach, or whether you are being exposed to other allergens at the same time. In most cases, symptoms of a true food allergy occur every time the offending food is consumed. This does not necessarily occur with a food intolerance.
Will allergy shots make my food allergies go away?
There are no shots currently available for food allergies. Allergy injections can help desensitize you to the allergens in your environment. This can help decrease you need for medications, and may reduce the intensity of your allergy symptoms if the same symptoms are caused by your food and environment allergens.
My allergies seem to cause more of a problem when I am expecting my period. Does this mean that at other times of the month I can eat foods I am allergic to?
Hormonal fluctuations, such as those experienced by women on or around menses, pregnancy, or menopause, may change the severity of their allergy and asthma symptoms. Your allergist can help you determine the role of your hormonal fluctuations related to your allergies and asthma. However, even though your symptoms may change in severity, this does not mean that you are no longer allergic to a food. As usual, this food should be avoided.