Food allergy testing

The cause of delayed allergy or food sensitivities often can be difficult to track down because reactions may not occur for hours or days. An elimination test, while not 100 percent accurate, is considered the “gold standard” for figuring out which foods are problems but, in some case, a blood test may be necessary to identify some hard-to-detect culprits.

I have tried several elimination diets where certain foods that are potential food allergens are avoided for two-four weeks and then gradually reintroduced. Certain symptoms disappeared when I eliminated gluten, eggs, dairy and corn but the cause of chronic muscle pain and fatigue continued to be a mystery.

Common symptoms provoked by delayed food allergies include gas, bloating, cramping, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. Other symptoms can be headache, muscle or joint pain, fatigue, food cravings, eczema, mouth ulcers, canker sores or hives.

The next step was a blood test, one designed to measure IgG and IgE antibodies in my blood. IgG is an antibody that occurs after repeated, frequent exposure to certain foods and produces delayed responses. IgE antibodies result in classic, immediate responses, such as asthma attacks, anaphylactic shock or instant hives.

IgG responses were my concern as my symptoms have always been delayed ones. The results shed new light on the potential causes of my persistent symptoms.

My blood test measured my IgG responses to 108 different foods, including dairy, fruits, vegetables, fish/shellfish, poultry/meats, nuts, grains and 21 different spices. Some of the foods I reacted to were ones I would never have thought of without the help of the test.

For instance, I was reacting to sardines which at first, I thought, “I don’t even eat sardines.” But my health care practitioner helped me track down the source which was fish oil tablets. I had been taking them for years because I thought they would reduce inflammation.

Another surprising finding was a reaction to oysters and clams, which again, I eat almost never. The source of my exposure turned out to be calcium supplements which I have taken for years.

One last astonisher was my high sensitivity to all kinds of spices which I confess to using abundantly on all my foods. I also am a liberal drinker of herbal teas which are blends of numerous herbs and spices.

With these results in hand, the next step is to eliminate all the sources of my reactions. This is the most difficult part because it means changing the way I cook (no more spices), the beverages I drink and the supplements I take. I’m hoping the end result will be lessened muscle pain and fatigue.