Testing for food allergies is best done under the care of a specially trained physician, also known as an allergist. These doctors are able perform various tests to determine whether a person is allergic or intolerant to foods or other substances. Often a referral is necessary to make an appointment with them which can be obtained from a family or general practice physician.
There are generally two types of food allergy tests – blood work and a “scratch” test. The scratch test is more commonly performed as it is less expensive and more substances can be tested at once. To perform this test, the skin is prepared with small ink outlines and a tiny amount of the substance or substances being tested for are either placed on the skin or just under it then left alone for at least 15 minutes.
Blood tests for food allergies examine for IgE antibodies and can help to determine whether it is a food allergy or intolerance. These tests can be expensive so they are often used after a scratch test has been performed and the field has been narrowed to only a few foods. Blood tests are not always 100% accurate and many allergists will caution that even a negative result should still be treated as a positive if it is already known that the patient reacts to the certain substance.
After the testing has been performed, an allergist will discuss the results with you and explain any allergic reactions that they found as well as what they recommend for a course of treatment. The most common treatment for food allergies is to adhere to a total avoidance diet of the food in question to prevent any problems.