I. What Is Food Sensitivity Testing?

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:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Gas and bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches

When to get tested

Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may order a test to confirm a food allergy or intolerance.

II. How to Prepare for Food Sensitivity Testing

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.

III. How a Food Sensitivity Test Works

There are several ways a health care provider can diagnose a food sensitivity.

  • Food diary: You may be asked to keep a diary of the foods you eat and the symptoms you experience.
  • Elimination diet: You may be instructed to eliminate suspected foods from your diet and reintroduce them one by one to see if they trigger symptoms.
  • Food allergy testing: A food allergy test can help determine if you’re sensitive or allergic to a certain food. This may be a skin prick test performed by an allergist or a blood test done in a lab.
  • Breath test: Used for lactose intolerance testing, a breath test is done by your health care provider to measure the amount of hydrogen in your breath after consuming lactose. High levels of hydrogen can mean the lactose isn’t being fully digested.
  • Food sensitivity blood test: Food sensitivity tests involve lab analysis of a blood sample to look for antibodies that might indicate an intolerance to certain foods.

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.

IV. Understanding Food Sensitivity Testing Results

How quickly you get the results of your food sensitivity testing depends on the test.

  • Breath tests or skin prick tests can provide immediate results.
  • Blood test results are usually provided to your doctor or available online within a week of the lab receiving your sample.
  • Results of a food diary or elimination diet test may vary as it can be a process of trial and error.

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.

V. Learn From Our Food Sensitivity Testing Sources

You can find out more about food sensitivities and allergies by consulting the websites used in putting together this guide.