Food Allergy Frequently Asked Questions

The diagnosis of a food allergy can be confusing for patients and their families alike. But educating yourself about food allergy can alleviate your concerns. If you don’t find your question answered here please, email us. You can also contact our specialized food allergy nurse at 734-232-2161 with your personal food allergy concerns.

Q: What is a food allergy?

A: A food allergy is a malfunction of the immune system called a “hypersensitivity.” When the immune system mistakes food for something harmful, it overreacts by releasing histamine and other chemicals in the body. This allergic reaction is not only uncomfortable, but can be life threatening.

Q: Is there a cure for food allergies?

A: At this time, there is no cure. The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to completely avoid the problem food.

Q: When will I get my test results?

A: If you are having a Skin Prick Test (SPT), then you will learn the results right after the test is completed. If you had an ImmunoCAP-RAST, then your allergist will notify you within two weeks of the blood draw to review the results with you. For Atopy Patch Testing (APT), you will keep the taped panel in place on your back for 48 to 72 hours. An appointment will be made for you to return to the clinic to remove the test panel and discuss the test results with your allergist. Learn more about food allergy testing. You may also be able to access your results via MyUoMHealth.org.

Q: How often will I need to be seen at the Food Allergy Clinic?

A: After your initial evaluation, we will schedule a return visit based on your individual care plan. This appointment may be in one, six or 12 months. You also may be referred back to your primary care physician, pediatrician or local allergist. You should be seen in our clinic at least annually, or as often as your U-M allergist determines.

Q: How can I contact my U-M allergist?

A: There are several ways to leave a message for your allergist:

  • Call our Domino’s Farms clinic directly at 888-229-2409.
  • Send your allergist a secure email through MyUofMHealth.org; please note that a reply may take up to three days.
  • For health forms or support managing food allergy, please contact our specialized food allergy nurse at 734-232-2161 or via email.
  • An on-call allergy doctor can always be reached after hours at 734-936-4000. Call 911 for all urgent medical concerns.

Q: How can I prevent allergic reactions?

A: Preventing reactions means following a special allergen-free diet; carefully reading ingredient labels, and calling manufacturers about processed foods; asking questions when eating away from home; carrying emergency medication; and educating others about your condition. It is also vital for you and the people around you to know how to recognize and respond quickly to an allergic reaction. Always carry a Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP) and current medication, such as fast-acting antihistamine (Benadryl®) and an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen® or Auvi-Q™ ).

Q: Will my child outgrow his/her food allergy?

A: Even with recent advances in research, there is no way to know if or when someone might outgrow a food allergy. Studies show that a person is likely to outgrow a milk, egg, wheat or soy allergy by 16 years old. However, allergies to peanut, tree nuts, fish or shellfish tend to remain life-long. Our allergists use proven research, test results, and evaluations—over time—to determine if your child has potentially outgrown a food allergy and whether it is safe to do an oral food challenge in our clinic.

Q: How should I introduce new foods to my food-allergic child’s diet?

A: Always talk with your child’s allergist or pediatrician before starting new foods, especially the “Top 8” allergens: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, shellfish and fish. Your doctor will help develop a safe plan based on your child’s medical history. Do not attempt to feed your child a known food allergen outside of a doctor’s office or a hospital. Allergic reactions to food are unpredictable, can worsen quickly and may require immediate life-saving medical treatment.

Q: What can people diagnosed with a new food allergy eat?

A: A new food allergy diagnosis can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to meal planning and nutrition. We recommend that you keep food simple at first. Stay away from processed foods with long and confusing ingredient labels. Get back to basics with whole foods. Aim for balanced meals that include a protein, a starch and a fruit/vegetable. Focus on what you can eat, instead of what you can’t. Your allergist can refer you to a registered dietician for personalized nutritional support. Explore other resources from the Food Allergy Clinic, including trusted recipe websites.

Q: What are symptoms of an allergic reaction?

A: Symptoms of an allergic reaction to food are not always the same every time. They can vary in severity and may involve different parts of the body, including:

  • Mouth: itching and swelling of the lips, tongue or mouth
  • Throat: itching, tightness, swelling, hoarseness, hacking cough
  • Skin: hives, itchy rash, redness, swelling
  • Stomach: nausea, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Lungs: shortness of breath, wheezing, repeated coughing
  • Heart: weak pulse, loss of consciousness, chest pain

The sudden onset of more than one of the above symptoms and/or problems breathing can signal an allergic emergency called anaphylaxis. This type of life-threatening reaction requires immediate medical attention. Use an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen® or Auvi-Q™), call 911, and tell emergency personnel that it is anaphylaxis. If possible, a person in anaphylaxis should lie down on their side until an ambulance arrives and they can be transported to the hospital.

Q: What is anaphylaxis?

A: Anaphylaxis is a major allergic reaction. Symptoms often come on suddenly (acute) and involve more than one part of the body (e.g., lungs, heart, throat, stomach). A person’s blood pressure may drop, causing loss of consciousness. Anaphylaxis is life threatening if not treated immediately. It requires medical treatment with a shot of epinephrine (EpiPen® or Auvi-Q™), a dose of antihistamine (Benadryl®), possibly the use of an inhaler (Albuterol) and a call to 911. A person in anaphylaxis should be monitored by a doctor in the ER—even if they seem okay after medication—as symptoms can return within 15 minutes to several hours.

Q: How do I use an epinephrine auto-injector?

A: Anaphylaxis is an allergic emergency that must be treated immediately with medication in order to stop life-threatening symptoms. You can also visit these websites for information and training videos on the epinephrine auto-injector prescribed by your doctor:

Q: What should I do after my/my child's allergic reaction is over?

A: Once the acute phase has been treated, you should call the Domino’s Farms clinic at 888-229-2409 within 24 hours. Your allergist may need to see you/your child for follow-up care. Do not call during an allergic reaction—focus on treating the allergic symptoms. Call 911 immediately if you have any question about whether to use your epinephrine auto-injector.

Q: What should I do if I have an allergic reaction to a food that was supposed to be safe?

A: If the food should have been safe according to the product label, then you should:

  • Bag, tag and store the leftover food and its package in a plastic bag or container away from the food-allergic individual. Refrigerate or freeze, as needed, to preserve.
  • Call the food manufacturer to report an allergic reaction. Have the package information in front of you, including any product numbers or codes. Write down the date and time of your phone call, as well as the name of the person with whom you speak.
  • Keep the leftover food and packaging until your allergist lets you know whether he wants to send out a sample for a food analysis or further reporting.

Q: What is a Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP) and where can I get one?

A: A Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP) is a customized treatment plan that outlines the foods a patient needs to avoid and the steps and medications to take for an allergic reaction. There is space on the FAAP for emergency contact information. It also illustrates how to use an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen®, Auvi-Q™, Adrenaclick®). A FAAP is written specifically for you by your allergist and needs to be updated annually. A copy should be kept anywhere an allergic reaction could happen—e.g., at school, home and with you. It is important for any caregiver to review and understand a FAAP prior to its use. To request a FAAP or other health form, contact our specialized food allergy nurse at 734-232-2161 or via email.  

Q: What is a 504 Plan?

A: The 504 Plan takes its name from a section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requiring school districts to provide all students, regardless of disability, with a “free appropriate education.” Section 504 mandates that schools (and other programs receiving federal funding) accommodate students with disabilities so that they can fully participate in educational activities. If the medical needs of a student with food allergies cannot be met through the implementation of an individualized health plan or a Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP), the parents can request that the school write a comprehensive 504 Plan. The process for writing a 504 Plan involves collaboration between parents and appropriate school personnel (e.g., nurse, special education director, principal, 504 coordinator) and may require detailed medical documentation.  

Q: What is the MyUofMHealth.org patient portal?

A: MyUofMHealth.org enables you to securely use the Internet to help manage and receive information about your health care. You can:

  • Schedule appointments
  • View your health summary from the electronic health record
  • View test results
  • Request prescription renewals
  • Access trusted health information resources
  • Communicate electronically with your medical care team

Q: How do I access the MyUofMHealth.org patient portal?

A: The first time you’re seen in the clinic, you will receive an activation code for the patient portal. You will need this activation code, along with your nine-digit Medical Record Number (MRN) and your birthdate, to sign up on www.MyUofMHealth.org. Your MRN is printed on most of the labeled paperwork from our clinic. You can also request an activation code at MyUofMHealth.org, but it may take up to a week to receive.