Tips for Finding the Right Food Allergy Specialist for You and Your Child

 

Board certified allergists in your local area can be found at http://allergist.aaaai.org/find/ or http://acaai.org/locate-an-allergist    

 

Tips based on the presentation by Austin allergist Dr. Allen Lieberman at the 2015 National Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) conference “Find the Right Food Allergy Specialist for You and Your Child”

 

Many practice allergy who are not well trained or qualified with the complexities of food allergy  

      (ENT, Family Practitioners, naturopaths, chiropractors, nutritionists - beware of gluten, leaky gut, autism spectrum, wellness, cleansing rotation diets, yeast…)

 Experience matters – what percentage of their patients have food allergies - are food challenges offered

 Expectations from the allergist

o   Thoroughly explain the blood and skin test results

o   Provide written emergency care plan

o   Train patients using the epinephrine auto-injector/EpiPen training device

o   Perform food challenges (if appropriate)

o   Discuss foods to avoid, labeling laws, cross contact and cross reactivity of foods

o   Refer to online resources, support groups, dietician, tertiary medical centers (if appropriate)

 Expectations from the allergist  - school management

o   Advocate for your child

o   Epinephrine auto-injector/EpiPen

o   Emergency Care Plan and school forms

o   Help with 504 plan and/or Individual Healthcare Plan

o   Offer in service training and/or resources for school

The diagnosis

o   Clinical history is the most important factor in an accurate diagnosis

o   Skin and blood tests are used to confirm the diagnosis                   

o   Most food reactions are very obvious and immediate

o   Never stop a food someone had been safely eating for years with no obvious reactions

 Before the office visit - research credentials (internal medicine or pediatric training) and board certification - look for red flags on website - get referrals from pediatrician, friends, family

 At the office visit - leave the siblings at home - bring food reaction diary - have questions prepared -         do not leave without an emergency plan, prescription for epi and an epi demonstration

 After the office visit - follow up on labs in a timely manner - ensure emergency plans and epi are up to date – ensure all teachers/caregivers know the plan - discuss food challenges (if appropriate)

 Epinephrine – “shoot (inject) first and ask questions later” - no contraindications, no serious, harmful side effects if overused - too much epi better than too little - too little or expired epi better than none

 Food challenges - may be performed to confirm if allergy exists or if outgrown - common for baked milk/egg products - yet most allergists do not perform

A successful long-term partnership with an allergist is critical!