A couple of months ago our son had his annual food allergy check-up. After having four vials of blood drawn to test again for dozens of foods, we were excited to find out that he was outgrowing his chicken and turkey allergy. Turkey used to be a class 2 allergen - it came back a class 0. Chicken, initially a class 3 (it had sent us to the ER two years ago), was now a class 1. Well, class 1 is equivocal but he tolerates all the other allergens included in this class. Which made us hopeful that he could try chicken again. Very important to us since he eats very little meat (pork and beef), he is highly allergic to nuts, seeds, and legumes, and we always struggle to feed him an adequate amount of protein.
With these encouraging test results in mind, about a month ago we tried turkey. After just one bite of turkey breast, a rash appeared around his mouth and he said his tongue was "spicy". We immediately administered a dose of Benadryl and the rash subsided in 20-30 minutes. Fortunately, he did not develop any other symptoms, but the experience left us wondering about the accuracy of the test results.
Last night, we thought we'd try chicken. Same thing happened. One bite of chicken breast, immediate rash around the mouth, and he complained of burning tongue and stomach pain. We gave him Benadryl again, wondering if this would be the beginning of anaphylaxis. I was already going through the food allergy action plan in my head, dreading the fact that we might have to give him his first epinephrine shot ever. To our great relief, he responded very well to Benadryl and all symptoms disappeared in about half an hour.
These scary episodes reminded us that we can't rely on blood test results only, and that clinical symptoms trump everything when it comes to food allergies. If you haven't read it yet, I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Summary for Patients, Families, and Cargivers (you can download an electronic version here or get a hard copy at our support group meeting, this Saturday - see sidebar for details).
Have you or your child had a similar experience? I would love to hear about how you dealt with the situation, either here in the comments section or at our group meeting. Please keep in mind that if you are familiar with food allergies and have had plenty of experience, you could greatly help someone else who is just starting down this path.