Food Sensitivity Testing

Food sensitivity testing is the most common way to identify food allergies (more properly known as ‘sensitivities’). They can often be the hidden cause of health problems including conditions like weight gain, asthma, eczema, headaches, migraines, digestive problems and plenty of others.

Food sensitivities typically cause more subtle signs and symptoms. It can be difficult to detect a food sensitivity, because oftentimes the food allergy symptoms won’t manifest until well after an offending food has been ingested. This may range anywhere from 24 to 72 hours later! Because of this, food sensitivities are often not suspected as the cause of health problems, and go unnoticed for a long time.


Food sensitivities cause delayed onset reactions; they are very different from immediate-type food allergies.

Immediate food allergies are easy to detect; they typically cause wheezing, hives, vomiting, swelling and require emergency treatment.



Food Sensitivity Symptoms

Here are just a few possible food allergy symptoms and conditions that can be associated with delayed-onset food sensitivities:

  • Rashes
  • Digestive problems (constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis)
  • Joint pain
  • Asthma
  • Cough
  • Sinus problems
  • Weight gain & inability to loose weight
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic infections
  • Swelling
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Post nasal drip
  • Allergic shiners
  • Itching
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Behavioral issues in kids

Testing for Food Sensitivities

You may have other symptoms that are caused by food sensitivities. If you suspect you have food sensitivities, we encourage you to come in and get a  food allergy test, rather than randomly choosing foods and removing them from your diet.

We use food allergy testing rather than an elimination-challenge diet when diagnosing food allergies because it can be so tough trying to completely eliminate a single food. Many foods today contain trace amounts of other foods in them, making it tough to isolate the offending food. A lot of the time a person will have more than one food sensitivity, making an elimination-challenge near impossible to do with any accuracy.

And, a food must be completely removed for at least 8 weeks before a final judgment can be made making an elimination-challenge diet extremely time consuming.

Uncovering hidden food allergies and food sensitivities using food sensitivity testing is an efficient way to find possible hidden causes of illness.

We offer testing for food allergies, food sensitivity and food intolerance at our Fort Collins office.

Things To Know About Testing

Here are some things to consider about food sensitivity testing. 

Children

Very young children (3 and under) don't test well. Meaning, their immune systems are not fully developed in a way that allows us to obtain accurate results from this type of test.

Many people want to do a food sensitivity test for their young child, however we advise them to wait. If we did a test on a young child like this, our results would be poorly correlated with what's actually going on in their bodies. In other words, we would get a lot of false positives (meaning the test may show that the child is allergic to certain foods, even though they aren't) and a lot of false negatives (meaning the test may not show a food the child is allergic too). 

This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with food sensitivity testing; rather a young child's immune system isn't developed enough to provide accurate results. Many practitioners will test young children like this, and they shouldn't - the results aren't reliable!

So what should you do with an under 3 year-old child that you suspect food sensitivies in?  I advise that parents keep a detailed record of what the child ate and when symptoms appeared. More often than not, it's one of the top food alllergens that are causing the problems. 

Top Food Allergens

  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

While an elimination diet can be challenging, it is a bit easier in young kids as their diets tend to be fairly limited in food variety, and parents can easily control their diet.  Regardless, if you need help trying to figure out a young child's food allergy symptoms, we are happy to help in the detective work. 

Eating Before You Test

It's important to have some exposure to a food before you do a food sensitivity test for it. Oftentimes, a person will have been avoiding a certain food(s) because they don't like the way it makes them feel, or suspect it's causing certain symptoms. If you haven't had exposure (i.e., eaten) a food in the last few weeks before the test, it may not show up in the results. 

Food sensitivity proteins hang around in our system for several weeks. After a while, if you've not had the food, these proteins may go away (hence the resolution of symptoms). If we then did a test, it may show a false negative, meaning the food didn't show up as a positive food allergen - not because you aren't allergic to it, but because your body hasn't been exposed to it in a while. 

However, if you have immediate food allergy symptoms such as anaphylaxis, hives, wheezing, or dizziness, you should NOT ever eat this food. Chances are this is a food that causes an immediate-type allergic reaction, and this type of reaction can be life threatening.  This type of food allergy is best tested via a skin prick in the allergist's office.

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