Food Allergy and Sensitivity Testing
Allergies are our body's response to environmental triggers. These triggers are identified as foreign to the body and in response our body has an immune reaction to the offending substance. Allergens can be in the form of grasses and pollens, as well as foods. Symptoms of environmental allergens are often the typical symptoms we associate with allergies including; itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, chronic cough, and asthma. Food allergies are less well known, yet they may also cause the same symptoms that the environmental allergens cause. Additionally, other symptoms such as skin rashes (eczema), indigestion, reflux, constipation, diarrhea, behavioral problems (including Autism and ADHD), and bed wetting may be related to food allergies.
Food allergies vs. Food sensitivities: A food allergy is a response by the body which involves the immune system and is an IgE response. A food sensitivity can cause similar symptoms but involves IgG, not IgE.
Food Sensitivity Testing: Most of our clients choose to do the IgG food sensitivity test to help determine what they are reacting to. The test we use is performed using a few drops of blood from a finger stick or from a blood draw. The IgG antibodies test for delayed sensitivity reactions, which means they may not have a reaction for 24-72 hours after exposure to the offending substance. An IgE test is available as well. IgE antibodies are involved in immediate sensitivity reactions, which are much easier identified after exposure and therefore less often indicated. You do have the option of simply doing the IgG test only as these reactions are much harder to detect without the help of labs.
Environmental Allergy Testing: It is less common that we do testing for environmental allergens such as grasses, pollens, mold or animal dander. The reason being is that there is not a single test grouping offered that covers all of the plants indigenous or found locally. For this reason it would be easy to miss allergens our patients are reacting to. Secondly, even if we know which allergens someone is reacting to, we can't always avoid them.
Benefits of this test over a scratch test: This test involves a single prick of the finger or heel and tests for 96 different foods, unlike the scratch test or skin prick test which involves multiple scratches or injections.
General Consensus: While each and every allergen can't be ruled out with an allergy test and the fact that no allergy test is 100% accurate, we have still used these tests with patients with great success in helping them avoid allergens and make great strides with their health. With that said, it is important to keep in mind, that just because you have a positive food allergen test, it does not necessarily confirm that it is the cause of your symptoms. The only way to confirm the results is to avoid the allergen.