If you have been told that you need a food allergy test this page is perfect for you. This is a brief explanation of how all kinds of food sensitivities are diagnosed.
Here you will learn what steps you need to take if you are diagnosed with or suspect that you have a food allergy or sensitivity to certain food.
A word of advice re the diagnosis of food allergies
First, a quick word of advice. If you think you have a food allergy or intolerance your first step is always to get a proper diagnosis. Here at Overcome Food Intolerances we recommend using the medical profession to get your diagnosis. The medical community use the most reliable type of food allergy test and offer the best advice.
However, we also understand that this is not always practical or possible.
As a result, we cover all the options including home testing and getting help via complementary medicine. However when it comes to diagnosis if you can get the relevant medical support it is wise to do so and not go it alone.
Food intolerance testing explained
People are tested for food sensitivities in three main ways. The three ways are skin tests, blood tests and elimination diets.
Skin tests – a common food allergy test
There are three main types of skin tests. They all work by applying a solution of the suspected allergen to the skin and looking for an adverse reaction. This is the most commonly used food allergy test. It is easy to administer, gives accurate results and is almost painless.
Blood tests for food allergies
Blood tests look for signs of high levels of certain antibodies in the blood. Again, you can find out more about blood testing for food sensitivity on the general testing page. If you want to understand the science behind these tests go to the detail blood-testing page.
Diets to diagnose food allergies
The third diagnostic tool is the oldest, which is the use of special food allergy food regimes that are collectively known as elimination diets. Dr Albert Rowe came up with the elimination or exclusion diet idea in 1929.
These diets are exactly what they sound like. To decide whether you are allergic to a specific food you cut it from your diet. If your symptoms clear up the chances are you have found the culprit.
Sometimes you are lucky and the first food you eliminate is the one that is causing your food sensitivity issues. Unfortunately, this does not happen often so you can find yourself on an elimination diet for several months.
You can find out more about food allergy detection diets elsewhere on the website.
A three-pronged diagnostic approach for food intolerances
Some allergists use all three of these diagnostic tools. Taking this approach gives you the fastest and most accurate diagnosis possible. They prefer not to rely on the result from just one food allergy test.
Alternative diagnostic tools for food intolerance
There are a few alternative diagnostic methods. Many of them have not been tried and tested by the medical community, so are not widely available.
Naturally, not all of these alternative methods work. However, personal experience has shown me that some do. My food intolerances were diagnosed and treated in what are considered as unconventional ways, but it worked for me.
As a result, on Overcome Food Intolerances we do cover alternative diagnostic methods and treatments. Our aim is to give you the information to decide whether any of them are worth your while trying or whether you are happy to follow the conventional diagnosis route, which is tried and tested and works for most people. You can find out about these alternative food intolerance diagnosis and treatment methods in the main food sensitivity testing article.
Treatments for food intolerances
Once you have a diagnosis of food intolerance, the main treatment is to drop those foods from your diet. Some people suffer from accumulative sensitivity to certain foods. This means that sometimes you can eat the foods you are sensitive to, but only in small amounts and only occasionally.
Eating allergen free foods to reduce food intolerance symptoms
Eliminating a core food like wheat from your diet is not easy. However, it can be done with the help of a range of allergen free foods.
Taking antihistamines to control the symptoms of food intolerances
Antihistamines can be used to reduce the symptoms of food intolerance. Long-term use of antihistamines is not ideal. As with all drugs, long-term use puts a strain on the body and causes side effects.
Adrenaline is rarely needed to treat food intolerance
Adrenaline is rarely used on people with food intolerances. It is really only used when someone with a true food allergy has an anaphylaxis reaction. This reaction is a severe allergic reaction, which people with low-level sensitivity to foods rarely experience.
Keeping a Food and symptoms diary to help you to manage food intolerance
Some people find that they develop more food intolerances over time. As a result, some people keep a food and symptoms diary to help them to track what they eat and how they feel. This approach allows them to work out whether any new foods are making them feel ill, and do so quickly.
Others use it to check whether they are still sensitive to certain foods. Food intolerances can come and go.
Some people can tolerate small amounts of the foods that they are intolerant to after they have eliminated them from their diet for a few months. Keeping a food diary is the best way of checking whether this applies to you and to work out how much of a certain food you can eat without feeling ill.
Nutritional therapy for those with food sensitivities
Nutritional therapy can help to reduce the sensitivity you have. It primarily works by ensuring that you are eating a good diet, which strengthens your body and its immune system. This approach can help to reduce the negative impact a food tolerance has on your life.
Complementary medicine go treat sensitivity to food
I benefited greatly from complementary medicine. The practitioner I went to was a qualified neurologist and biochemist.
She used a Vega machine to measure the body’s response to a huge range of foods and substances. By checking my levels of vitamins and minerals she narrowed down the products, I was intolerant of or allergic to.
Addressing deficiencies in my body and cutting out allergens gradually improved my health. Later, when I was healthier the foods I was sensitive to were re-introduced. This was done using tinctures that contained very low levels of the foods that normally made me sick. Over time, I was able to gradually build up my tolerance to those foods. With the help of my allergist I was able to eat small amounts of foods I had previously been unable to eat at all.
For this reason, I am very interested in the use of complementary medicine for food intolerances. That is why I cover these treatment options along with those offered by the mainstream medical profession.
However, not everyone agrees that these alternative treatments work. There have been very few formal studies of these techniques. They helped me, but I want to offer advice that is backed up by more than just my experience. That is why I mainly cover conventional diagnosis and treatment options.
Oral immunotherapy is one such example. It works by exposing those with allergies to tiny amounts of their allergens and gradually building the dose up. The process re-educates the body to realise that the allergen is actually not harmful.
Please note this is not something you can do at home by feeding yourself tiny amounts of the food that causes an adverse reaction in your body. The amount of the allergen used is infinitesimal to start with. This kind of oral solution can only reliably be made in the lab.
No one with a food allergy should expose himself or herself to any allergen, no matter how small, without the supervision of a doctor. It is best not to do a food allergy test at home if you can possibly avoid doing so.
As you can see, the world of food intolerance diagnosis and treatment is an evolving one. As a result, I regularly update this page and others on the site as new advances are made.