We get quite a lot of questions about food challenges at Bluegrass Family Allergy, so we want to share answers to some frequently asked questions.
- How do I know when or if I’m eligible for a food challenge? The answer to this question is based on your clinical history, skin test results, and sometimes a review of the trend in your lab values over time. When taking all these things into account, Dr. Brauer may discuss the possibility of a food challenge.
- Do I have to be totally negative on my testing before a food challenge is possible? It is the progression of labs and testing, combined with the history and timing of reactions that matter. Dr. Brauer also takes the overall health of the patient into account. For example, a patient with very high testing results or uncontrolled asthma or eczema may be at higher risk for a reaction and therefore not be eligible.
- How does the process work? Challenges are done based on foods brought from home. If the food challenge is for a baked product (something with milk or egg, such as a cake) we prefer these be homemade so that we know exactly how much of the allergen is present. Challenges are done first thing in the morning or afternoon and last for about 2-3 hours. We begin with a very small amount of the allergen, then as long as the patient has no symptoms (patients are examined frequently throughout the challenge) they will continue to eat increasing doses of the food until a full serving is achieved.
- Why can’t I just do this at home? Sometimes Dr. Brauer will recommend this if your case is low-risk. However, if she recommends doing your challenge in a controlled environment such as our office, there is a significant risk of reacting to the allergen. Additionally, certain allergens (like peanut, for example) may increase the possibility of a reaction.