Medical tests for food sensitivities?
February 24, 2006 7:23 PM   Subscribe

What tests are available for food sensitivities, enzyme deficiencies, food allergies, etc?

I'm currently on a diagnostic test extravaganza with my GI doctor, as we try to figure out what's going on with my intestines (Many IBS symptoms + weightloss, except it doesn't appear to be IBS).

As we're running out of tests to perform, and as my symptoms are definitely food-related (though in too complicated a way for me to figure out with a symptom+food journal), are there any diagnostic tests that will nail down a given food sensitivity? If so, what?
posted by sirion to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a problem similar to yours (near-random, only occasionally replicable, allergic reactions to foods), and on my last dig-around found:

An elimination diet - Which is just too big of a pain for me to even think about at the moment, but might be interest to you if your doctor hasn't tried something like it, and you're desperate enough to eat an amazingly bland diet for a few months.

Alletess and US BioTek explain the services they offer on their websites, and this was interesting, but like many food allergy websites has the whiff of quack about it. (Do I need to tell you to be wary of just about anything a chiropractor offers in the way of diagnostics?)

Thanks for the question - I'm going to be watching too!
posted by Orb2069 at 8:00 PM on February 24, 2006

Go to an allergist and he can draw blood and send it off to the lab for a RAST test. The lab will check for reactions to any protein or enzyme you tell it to test. I used to get skin tests but I think that the RAST is more accurate and less invasive.
posted by billysumday at 7:54 AM on February 25, 2006

Seconding billysumday, but it's worth noting that insurance often doesn't cover RAST tests when you can get a skin test. This would be a good time to develop dermatographism (example).
posted by booksandlibretti at 1:32 PM on February 25, 2006

I don't remember the name of the exact test, but he can check if you have antibodies to gluten in your blood. I went to a gastroenterologist a few years ago, who was all prepared to write me off as yet another whiny woman with vague GI symptoms, diagnose me as IBS, and send me on my merry crampy way. But "just in case" he did a blood test, and it came up with positive for the antibodies. I've been gluten-free ever since (except for the occasional cheat for chocolate cake) and feel much better. To be really 100% sure of gluten intolerance, you're supposed to get the antibody test plus an intestinal biopsy, but since positive blood test + gluten-free diet = much improvement for me, he decided not to make me get the biopsy too, thankfully. See if you can get the blood test and hold off on the biopsy if possible. And good luck!
posted by Asparagirl at 12:58 PM on February 26, 2006

It has a definite quackish aura, but there is also the ALCAT. I had this done about 10 years ago, when I was very ill. Avoiding the foods the test suggested I should avoid was the only thing that worked to get me started towards a livable value of "health."
posted by QIbHom at 2:36 PM on February 28, 2006

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