Food allergies and the symptoms that come along with them can be very disruptive and even dangerous. The best way to deal with a food allergy is to avoid the food you are allergic to (allergen). But how do you know what foods those are? There are scientific tests to help doctors figure out what foods if any are your allergens. You can read more about them in the article on diagnosing food allergies.
Food allergy testing can also be a hot topic for non-traditional doctors and others who may use a variety of unproven methods to try to diagnose a food allergy. Be wary of these tests that have not been scientifically proven to work and are often not covered by insurance:
• Cytoxic test – In this test, a bit of suspected food allergen is dried and placed on a microscope slide. A drop of your blood is added to the slide. The technician looks at the slide under a microscope to see if any white blood cells are “dying” on the slide as a result of being placed there with the allergen. This is an invalid test that is not based on scientific fact.
• Provocation test – In this test, small amounts of a suspected allergen are placed under your tongue (sublingual) or are injected under the skin (subcutaneous). The technician then asks if this has made your allergy symptoms worse. This has not been proven to be a valid way to diagnose a food allergy. An alternate version of this test, known as Provocation-Neutralization, starts the same with a small amount of allergen. If there is a reaction, the tester continues to give smaller doses of the allergen until the symptoms go away. This may sound similar to allergy shots, but is actually a different technique that has not been proven to either diagnose or cure food allergies.
• Electric current – In this test, you are asked to hold a class vial containing some of your suspected allergen in one hand. In the other hand, you hold something that is producing an electric current.