Could you have a food allergy and not know it? It’s possible. Properly diagnosing food allergies and food intolerances can allow you to take charge of your diet and feel better.
Food allergies can develop at any time. And while junk food isn’t good for anyone, sometimes foods with healthy reputations can prove problematic as well. While people often refer to any food sensitivity as an allergy, food allergies and intolerances are a bit different.
Food allergies often appear without warning, and they can trigger a life-threatening reaction from the immune system. Even a small amount of the problem food can cause major problems, including skin irritations (like rashes and hives) and trouble breathing or swallowing. With a food intolerance, your body reacts poorly to a food, but consuming it doesn’t enrage the immune system. Ultimately, food intolerances are slightly less hazardous than food allergies, but either type of sensitivity can make you incredibly miserable.
Symptoms of Food Allergies
What symptoms suggest that you might have a food allergy or intolerance? If you struggle with one or more of the following symptoms, it may be time to speak with a nutrition expert or allergist:
- Nausea, heartburn, or vomiting
- Abdominal pain, gas, or bloating
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Headaches or migraines
- Muscle or joint pain
- Irritation of the skin or throat
- Brain fog or fatigue that persists despite ample sleep
Diagnosing food allergies and intolerances can be tricky, so it’s wise to seek the assistance of a professional if you suspect that a food might be negatively impacting your health. A nutrition expert can work with you to identify the problem food and learn how to avoid it while maintaining a healthy diet.
The vast majority of food allergies are triggered by peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, soy, or wheat, but these aren’t the only troublemakers. Many people are sensitive to lactose, sulfites, gluten, and various food additives. If you have a true food allergy, your body will react every time you come into contact with your allergen. Food intolerances can be more difficult to diagnose because the reaction is less consistent, but with a professional’s help and a little persistence, it’s possible to identify the food that is causing your woes.
Diagnosing Food Allergies
While there is no standard test to confirm a food allergy or intolerance, there are several tools that a health care professional can utilize to pinpoint the problem.
A Health History
The first step in diagnosing a food allergy is often taking a health history. This involves discussing which foods seem to cause you trouble and the exact nature of your reaction. Questions about your family history of food allergies and other types of allergies will likely be included as well. In addition, you might be asked to undergo a physical exam to rule out other issues.
A Food Diary
A food diary is another helpful tool that can be used to pinpoint foods that might be responsible for your discomfort. If you’re asked to keep a food diary, you will need to record your eating habits, your symptoms, and any medications that you take. Then, your doctor will review the information to spot potential patterns and pitfalls.
An Elimination Diet
An elimination diet is a way of zeroing in on a particular allergen. Typically, you will be asked to avoid any suspected foods for a period of time. Then, you will slowly add the possible triggers back into your diet one by one, recording your reactions as you go.
An Oral Food Challenge
An oral food challenge involves testing your reaction to a suspected allergen in the safety of a medical professional’s office. Here, you will be asked to consume increasing portions of the suspected allergen in a location where help is readily available if you react poorly. If you complete the test without triggering a reaction, then it’s unlikely that your body is sensitive to the food in question.
A Skin Prick Test
With a skin prick test, a minuscule amount of the possible allergen is placed on your skin. Then, your skin is pricked with a needle to allow the food to penetrate beneath the skin’s surface. If you are allergic, a bump, welt, or some other type of skin reaction will occur. While skin prick tests can offer insight into your reaction to potential allergens, the results are not conclusive. Additional evidence is required when diagnosing food allergies.
Bloodwork can be used to measure your body’s reaction to a food by checking the amount of allergy-type antibodies known as immunoglobulin E antibodies. While the results can be helpful, they aren’t always completely accurate, so additional evidence will be required before a food allergy can be diagnosed.
Are you concerned that food allergies might be compromising your wellness? Do you want to learn how to eat a balanced diet without triggering your food allergy? Schedule a consultation with a nutritional expert today to learn more about managing and diagnosing food allergies. At Loehr Chiropractic and Acupuncture, we offer a full range of nutritional expertise and support, including consultations, diagnostic testing, and supportive resources. If you live in or near Springfield, Missouri, please give us a call today at 417-887-8075 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.