Allergy Tests are carried out to establish if any allergy is present and if so to find an appropriate treatment or what to do to avoid it. Any substance touching the skin or ingested can trigger off an allergic reaction and these triggers are called allergens, Symptoms can be minor to a life-threatening situation such as anaphylaxis.

Common symptoms:

• skin (hives, dermatitis, eczema)

• respiratory (runny eyes, nasal congestion, wheezing, hay fever, asthma)

• digestive (cramps, diarrhea, bloating, reflux).

In medicine, food allergy is hypersensitivity to dietary substances, leading to various types of gastrointestinal complaints. It occurs mainly, but not exclusively, in children. It is a common type of allergy, and is usually treated with an exclusion diet.

Some allergy tests in use today:

• Blood (RAST) tests

• Scratch or puncture tests

• Elimination Diets and Challenge Testing

• Patch tests

• Applied Kinesiology

• Chemical analysis of body tissues

Some common allergies include:

• Food allergy - Generally caused by ingesting an allergen viz. eating or drinking. The symptoms usually show within half an hour of eating something containing the allergen. Sometimes a  food allergy can result in anaphylactic shock: hypo tension (low blood pressure) and loss of consciousness thus making this a medical emergency.

Allergens examples are peanuts, nuts, milk, egg and seafood

• Lactose Intolerance - This generally develops later in life but can present in young patients in severe cases. This is due to an enzyme deficiency (lactase) and not allergy. It occurs in many non-western people.

• Coeliac Disease

This is an auto-immune disorder triggered by a specific wheat protein (gliadin).

• Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Although many IBS cases might be due to food allergy, this is an important diagnosis in patients with diarrhoea in whom no allergens can be identified.

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