Food Allergies and Intolerances – Post 3
How food allergy/intolerance are diagnosed
It’s important to be assessed for food allergy or food intolerance by a qualified medical professional. Self-diagnosis can result in restricting foods unnecessarily or missing proper treatment for another type of food disorder.
Diagnosis often starts with a detailed patient history and review of a food log. This may be followed with a supervised elimination diet. An elimination diet usually starts by removing the suspected food(s) from the diet. If the symptoms go away, an allergy or intolerance is suspected. If symptoms return when adding the food back into the diet (unless an unsafe reaction is expected) the diagnosis is confirmed. Sometimes more than one food is causing symptoms, making identification trickier.
Food allergy tests should not be used as the first steps in identifying an allergy–rather as a way to confirm a suspected allergy. Because testing is very sensitive, it can lead to false positive results. Since the treatment for food allergies is avoidance of the problematic food, a very limited diet can be the unnecessary result of false positive test results. It’s uncommon for a person to be allergic to more than one or two foods, making the use of allergy tests more helpful for confirming specific suspect foods, rather than broad testing of foods in general.