There’s a difference between food sensitivities and allergies. Food allergies trigger an immune system response and can be life-threatening, while food sensitivities result from the inability to digest certain foods. Lactose intolerance, for example, affects about 10% of Americans. Other common food sensitivities include wheat, eggs, and food additives.
Why should you get tested
A test can determine if you’re sensitive to certain foods so you can adjust your diet or manage symptoms.
Who should get tested
Consult with your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms and suspect a food sensitivity or allergy may cause them:
When to get tested
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may order a test to confirm a food allergy or intolerance.
In most cases, there’s no special preparation required for food sensitivity testing. Occasionally, you may be instructed to avoid a particular food before testing, while other times, you may need to be regularly ingesting the substance. Your doctor or the testing kit manual will give you specific guidelines if necessary.
There are several ways a health care provider can diagnose a food sensitivity.
Some websites sell food sensitivity test kits. These contain instructions and supplies for collecting a blood sample at home and returning it to a lab for analysis.
How quickly you get the results of your food sensitivity testing depends on the test.
Although those who have food allergies usually eliminate the allergen from their diet, it’s possible to be intolerant to a food yet still consume it in small amounts. Your doctor can review your results with you and help make changes to your diet to optimize your health.
You can find out more about food sensitivities and allergies by consulting the websites used in putting together this guide.