Don’t Let Food Allergies Hold You Back!

Food Allergy Testing & Doctor in St. Louis

Dr. Sonia Cajigal is a board-certified food allergy doctor in St. Louis, Missouri that can help you overcome food allergies with food allergy testing and treatment. Contact us at St. Louis Family Allergy to learn more about food allergy testing, management techniques, and treatment options for you and your children in St. Louis!

“Dr. Cajigal was friendly, professional, and informative. She took the time to explain the tests and what was going on with my allergies. She is so knowledgeable and really cared about how I was feeling. I would highly recommend this practice if you suffer from allergies and asthma.”

– Sue D, July 2020

Food Allergy Doctor Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy in St. Louis, Missouri
Food Allergy Doctor Dr. Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy review badges and affiliations

About Food Allergies

Food Allergies Overview

Food Allergy Symptoms

Food Allergy Testing

Food Allergy Treatment

A food allergy reaction occurs when your immune system overreacts to a particular protein found in that food. Food allergies are most often diagnosed in young children, but they can also present for the first time in older children and adults.

Common Food Allergens

The most common food allergies are:

  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Cow’s Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Tree Nuts
  • Sesame

Sometimes other allergies, such as pollen allergies, can appear as food allergies because foods contain proteins that are similar to the thing that you’re actually allergic to. For example, if you are allergic to birch tree pollen, you may have reactions triggered by peaches, pears, kiwi, cherries, apples, plum, coriander, parsley, fennel, celery, and carrots. This is called oral allergy syndrome (OAS), also known as pollen fruit syndrome (PFS).

Every case of food allergies is unique and nuanced, which is why it’s important to get tested and get to the bottom of what you’re allergic to. A food allergy reaction can be life-threatening, so individuals with food allergies must be very aware of exposure and be very careful to avoid food triggers. It is also possible that you or your child’s reaction to a certain food is actually an intolerance and not an allergy, though the symptoms can be similar. In either case, proper testing by an allergist is the only way to know for sure what you’re dealing with and how to most effectively navigate it.

See a Food Allergy Doctor

in St. Louis, Missouri

Common food allergens: peanuts, wheat, soy, cow's milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, sesame

Food Allergy Symptoms

A food reaction typically occurs within minutes of eating the trigger food, but symptoms may also appear a few hours later.

Common Food Allergy Symptoms

The most common symptoms of a food allergy reaction are:

  • Hives or red itchy skin
  • Swelling (also called angioedema)
  • Stuffy or itchy nose, sneezing, or itchy teary eyes
  • Vomiting, stomach cramps, or diarrhea

If you observe these symptoms in yourself or your children following a meal, it’s important to record what foods were involved, what symptoms occurred, and what you did to resolve them. This information will help Dr. Cajigal diagnose your case and put you on the most effective treatment course.

Most food allergy reactions are self-limiting, meaning that they resolve on their own in a matter of hours.

Severe Food Allergy Symptoms

A food allergy reaction can also be life-threatening. A severe, life-threating allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Throat tightening or a lump in the throat
  • Wheezing, chest tightness, or trouble breathing
  • Hoarseness
  • Tingling in the lips, hands, feet, or scalp

If you or your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately or go to the nearest emergency department.

See a Food Allergy Doctor

in St. Louis, Missouri

Woman reacting to food allergy symptoms scratching rash on her neck

Food Allergy Testing St. Louis

The first step to overcoming food allergies is to receive a proper diagnosis from a food allergy doctor. Dr. Cajigal will help you identify the foods you’re allergic to using a combination of your medical history and the food allergy testing methods available in St. Louis below.

Food Challenges

A food challenge involves consuming a small amount of the suspected food allergen in a supervised, medical setting. This can help confirm an allergy or verify if you have outgrown one.

Skin Testing for Food Allergies

Dr. Cajigal may suggest a skin-prick test, where small volumes of food allergens (and controls) are placed on your skin and pricked with a sterile needle. After 20 minutes, the skin is re-examined for any bumps indicating an allergic reaction.

Blood Testing for Food Allergies

A blood test can measure the amount of antibody circulating in the blood in reaction to the specific food allergen of interest. This confirmatory test is often used to rule out a suspected allergen if skin testing shows no response.

Elimination Diet

You may be asked to temporarily eliminate specific foods from your diet for 2 to 4 weeks. If your allergic symptoms disappear during this time, it is likely that one or more of the eliminated foods was the allergen.

See a Food Allergy Doctor

in St. Louis, Missouri

Girl using EpiPen to treat severe food allergy reaction

Food Allergy Treatment in St. Louis

There are steps you can take to minimize exposure to trigger foods and effectively manage food allergy reactions.

Avoid Trigger Foods

The most important part of managing food allergies is to avoid trigger foods. Be sure to read food labels and always ask about ingredients when eating at restaurants or when eating foods prepared by family or friends.

Have an Action Plan

When you have a food allergy, it’s not always possible to control your environment, so it’s important to carry medications in case of a reaction. With your children, it’s also important to make adults in their lives aware of their allergies and what to do in case of mild and severe reactions. This may include teachers, coaches, babysitters, etc.

Antihistamines for Mild Reactions

Antihistamines can help relieve symptoms when food reactions are mild. Be sure to discuss any medications with Dr. Cajigal before using them.

EpiPens for Severe Reactions

If you have severe allergies to certain foods, it’s important to have an EpiPen (autoinjectable epinephrine) handy at all times in case of a severe reaction.

Oral Immunotherapy

Oral immunotherapy is an emerging treatment in which gradually increasing amounts of an allergen are fed to an individual with food allergies. The goal of oral immunotherapy is to increase the amount of exposure to an allergen that the individual can tolerate. For example, someone with a peanut allergy may be given a very small amount of peanut protein to build up a tolerance to peanuts over time. Oral immunotherapy has not been shown to cure allergies, however it can greatly reduce the severity of allergic reactions.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful. Get in touch with us at St. Louis Family Allergy to learn more about food allergies and how to most effectively manage them! We’re looking forward to your visit.

References

[1] American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: https://acaai.org/
[2] Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: https://www.aafa.org/
More Specialties

Asthma

Drug Allergies

Eye Allergies

Food Allergies

Nasal Allergies

Skin Allergies

Allergy Shots

Allergy Testing

Biologic Therapy

St. Louis Family Allergy log
Visit Allergist Dr. Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy in St. Louis, Missouri

Food Allergist
Dr. Sonia Cajigal

Schedule Your Visit

St. Louis Family Allergy Google review score badge
"Dr. Cajigal was friendly, professional, and informative. She took the time to explain the tests and what was going on with my allergies. She is so knowledgeable and really cared about how I was feeling. I would highly recommend this practice if you suffer from allergies and asthma."

- Sue D, July 2020

“Dr Cajigal is a great listener. She trusts her patients instead of treating them as if they are not the experts of their own bodies. I really appreciate that (many doctors do not have that quality). She also immediately treats the symptoms instead of waiting to see if things clear. I use her for my children and myself. We have never left her office feeling as if it was a waste of time.”

– Stephanie, August 2020

"Great Allergist!"

- Ann H, December 2018

"She is the best."

- Stephen W, June 2020

Schedule Your Visit

We are currently accepting new adult and pediatric patients at St. Louis Family Allergy!
Reach out by phone, instant message, email, or the submission form below to schedule your visit. Same day appointments available.

Call St. Louis Family Allergy icon

Phone
(314) 530-6080

Call us anytime
M-Th, 8:30am-4pm

Message St. Louis Family Allergy icon

Instant Messaging
Use Our Chat Window

We typically respond
within 3 to 5 minutes

Email St. Louis Family Allergy icon

Email
info@stlfamilyallergy.com

Email us or use this
contact form

You can also use this contact form for general inquiries.