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New to allergies and confused
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townsend4408 posted:
Hello,


Due to ear infections, the ENT suggested we allergy test my 12 yr old son. On a whim, I had them run a food allergy panel. My son has a reaction to strawberries and I thought it would be good to confirm since we were doing other allergy tests. He has horrible allergies every spring and the other tests would be for environmental factors.

I was shocked with the results for food allergies. He came back as follows from the IgE blood test:
Peanuts, 6.99
Soybean, .95
Tomato, .74
Wheat, .60
Strawberry, 5.34


What has me so confused is the boy eats so many of these foods and had never had any reaction. I never would have suspected an allergy. We have some type of soy product/tofu every other week since he was a baby. He eats pizza or spaghetti with tomato sauce. He eats bread, crackers, goldfish, etc. He is not a fan of peanuts or peanut butter, but eats Reeces, pie I make with peanut butter chips, and banana bread I make with peanut butter. Never has there been any hint of a problem. If we hadn't done this test, I'd have no idea.


I went over these results with an allergist who has suggested not feeding these foods to him anymore. I think I remember him saying anything over .80 is something to worry about. It is really hard to accept this when there has been no problem whatsoever. Strawberries he throws up, so those were removed from his diet long ago. But the others?


I appreciate any advice or experiences others have to share. Should I worry about and remove from his diet wheat, soy, and tomato? The peanut butter isn't something we use on a regular basis, so that isn't too much of an issue. Or is this result such that I should look for items not made around peanuts? Again, there has never been any hint of a problem when eating any of these foods.


So confused.
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atti_editor responded:
Hi townsend4408,

This overview on food allergies and food intolerance has information on how food allergies work and what steps to take if you have food allergies or intolerance. The article says that the foods adults or children react to are those foods they eat often, which could explain why your son tested allergic to foods you eat almost everyday. Also, this article explains that food allergy tests are very sensitive but are not very specific, so they can show a positive result when you really aren't allergic to the food in question -- this could be what your son experienced. You might speak with your sons allergist to determine if there is any way to confirm he is really allergic to the above foods, or if it is a case of a false positive in the testing.

Best wishes,
Atti
 
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townsend4408 replied to atti_editor's response:
Thank you for your response. I looked at the articles you linked to, but now I may be even more confused. If the blood test showed positive for the food, the article suggests it could be a false positive? If these tests are sensitive but not specific, then how do we ever know if the test is accurate? And if they are very sensitive and he tested positive, does it mean he may be allergic to something other than the specific item listed on the test results?


I think I will have the tests run again in the fall when he isn't having the trouble with the spring allergies. I will also probably switch to the other doctor in the practice. The one I spoke to seemed so sure of himself, but the test results seem to go against my son's history. As I said, there have really been no reactions to the foods he eats, other than the strawberries. He has had food get stuck in his throat and I wondered if there was anything peanut related because it happened twice when eating chick-fil-a. I know they use peanut oil, so I thought maybe there was a connection. But everything I've read regarding peanut allergies suggests the oil used at Chick-fil-a will have removed the protein responsible for most allergic reactions. And I truly suspect the food getting stuck in his throat is a gastro related problem as opposed to an allergic reaction. His father and uncle have the same problems. (Another non-blood related uncle and his brother also had the same issue and it was due to reflux, not food allergies. My son had terrible reflux as a baby.)


And at what point do you remove a food from the diet? If he eats the item regularly with no symptoms, do we now remove it from his diet because the test came back showing low or moderate allergies?
 
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mrswhitecastle replied to townsend4408's response:
I think a switch to the other doctor in the practice sounds like a good idea. Anytime you aren't comfortable with a doctor that's a good idea!

I must admit, I wondered why your allergist would suggest avoiding a food that your son seems to tolerate. If anything, an opinion from a 2nd doctor will give you some peace of mind that you have a sound plan in place.

I know that each allergist is different, but I'm also surprised that your current one didn't order a skin test. My daughter's allergist trusts history, then skin test results, then blood test results.

That first appointment at the allergist when you get the diagnosis is incredibly overwhelming. It's hard to take in all the information at once, and then process what it means. If you are still confused, I would call the practice and see if you can talk to the doctor again, or maybe even a nurse. If you aren't getting the answers you need, and are still confused, it might be a good idea to set up another appointment sooner, rather than later.

You might also want to check out the "Food Allergy Families" board. There are only a few of us who post there, but I've found it incredibly supportive.


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