Allergists in Australia report that their patients are increasingly self-diagnosing food allergies using online resources before visiting their doctor.
They say that it’s leading them to cut out major food groups without first receiving medical advice or confirming the food allergy.
Kate DiPrima, a spokeswoman for the Dietician Association of Australia, said she’s seen an increase in self-diagnosed food allergies through her practice. She worries that cutting foods will cause nutritional deficiencies if not guided by a doctor.
“People suffer from things like distension, stomach pain, wind or stomach gurgling, and assume that it’s something like dairy, yeast or sugar causing the discomfort, so they cut it out,” Dr. DiPrima explains. In reality, she says, the culprit could be constipation or a high-fiber diet.
Self-Diagnosed Celiac Disease
A national study by the Grain and Legumes Nutrition Council found that 16 percent of Australians avoided eating wheat, though only 2 percent had been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. According to the study, 35 percent of those avoiding wheat had a self-diagnosed intolerance, while 15 percent had been diagnosed by a doctor.
“It’s scary to think how many people are making these false assumptions,” commented Georgie Aley, the council’s managing director.
Nutrition Australia senior nutritionist Aloysa Hourigan warns that basing a self-diagnosis on information found online can be dangerous. While there are a number of credible online sources, there is also plenty of conflicting information out there, making it “best to seek advice from a health professional,” she said.
A simple non-invasive test can quickly identify food allergies and can be ordered through your doctor.