What happens if food allergy is suspected?

What happens if food allergy is suspected?

If food allergy might be causing your child's symptoms, your GP, or another healthcare professional who is trained to diagnose and assess food allergy, should ask some more detailed questions about your child's symptoms and medical history. Your child should not be offered allergy tests without being asked these questions first.

Questions about symptoms should include:

  • how old your child was when they first started

  • how quickly they develop

  • how severe they are

  • how long they last

  • how often they happen

  • where they usually happen, for example at school or at home

  • whether the same symptoms happen each time your child eats a particular food

  • how much of the suspected food your child needs to eat for symptoms to appear.

The healthcare professional should also ask whether your child has had any other conditions associated with allergies (such as asthma, eczema or allergic rhinitis) or whether they have a parent or sibling with one of these conditions or with a food allergy. They should ask what you think might be causing the symptoms, whether you have tried any treatments already, or have tried removing any foods from your child's diet and then reintroducing them.

Your healthcare professional should ask questions to help them understand your child's feeding history, for example whether they were breastfed or formula-fed and at what age they were weaned onto solid food. For children who are being breastfed, the healthcare professional should ask some questions about the mother's diet to check whether the child's symptoms could be related to exposure to certain foods through breast milk.

The healthcare professional should then physically assess your child for growth problems, signs that they may not be getting the nutrition they need from their food, or any other physical problems.

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