Do you experience an upset stomach or other symptoms after eating a certain food? In this case, most people would assume that they had a food allergy, when in fact it is much more likely that they are dealing with a food intolerance. Unlike food allergies, intolerances are not caused by the immune system attacking the food. Though many of the symptoms are the same, it is important to know what is causing your symptoms as it affects how your condition should be handled.
Your doctor may request a blood test in order to determine whether you have a food intolerance, and if so, to what food. Because many food intolerances are to food additives such as dyes and preservatives, sometimes a blood test is needed to pinpoint the exact cause of the symptoms. Blood tests have been formulated to check for specific types of food intolerance, such as celiac disease.
Although the accuracy of some food intolerance blood tests has been called into question, they remain some of the best initial tests for determining whether a patient has a food intolerance. These tests are relatively simple to run in the doctor’s office. The drawn blood is tested with the IgE RAST test, which checks for antibodies that indicate a reaction to particular foods. This method allows the doctor to test several dozen potential food triggers using the same test.
Diagnosing a food intolerance can be difficult, even with the help of a blood test. The many potential causes, as well as the long list of potential trigger foods, can make it difficult for doctors to narrow down the cause of your symptoms. In addition to a blood test, your doctor may request that you undergo a skin prick test or endoscopy, keep a food journal tracking foods consumed and symptoms experienced, or follow an elimination diet, in which you avoid eating potential trigger foods.