What is Challenge Testing?
The Allergy & Asthma Centers of Maryland provide challenge testing to diagnose food allergy and drug allergy in adults and children.
Challenge testing is when an allergen is given to a patient in small doses under medical supervision to see if there is an allergic reaction. This test is commonly done to diagnose food and drug allergies. This test is the most accurate way to tell if a patient is allergic to a certain food or drug. A challenge test may also be considered to see if a patient has outgrown an allergy.
What is an Oral Food Challenge?
An oral food challenge (OFC) is a type of challenge test where a patient is given food or the suspected allergen under medical supervision to see if there is any type of allergic reaction. If no reaction occurs, the patient will be given larger amounts of the food to see if that triggers a reaction.
How is a Challenge Test Performed?
During a challenge test, an allergist will give the patient the suspected food or drug in measured doses. The doses start small at first and get larger if there isn’t any symptoms or allergic reaction.
If the patient shows an allergic reaction, the challenge test will be stopped and the allergist will inform the patient that they have an allergy to that food or drug being tested. The allergist will also inform the patient on how to avoid the food or drug that causes the allergic reaction and prescribe medications. If the patient shows no allergic reaction at all, the patient doesn’t have a food or drug allergy to the food or drug being tested.
Risks and Outcomes
Challenge testing usually comes with little risk and very rarely does a patient have a severe allergic reaction. If a patient has any type of allergic reaction including anaphylaxis, the allergist will provide immediate medical treatment.
After the test is over, patients will be informed of their test results and treatment options with the allergist will be discussed.