Food Allergy Diagnosis

When making a food allergy diagnosis, a doctor will ask several questions about the patient's medical history, especially as it concerns reactions to food. To assist with making a diagnosis, the patient may be asked to keep a diet diary. Other tools for reaching a food allergy diagnosis include elimination diets and blood tests.

An Overview of Food Allergy Diagnosis

After ruling out food intolerances and other health problems, your healthcare provider will use several steps to find out if you have a food allergy to specific foods.
These steps may include a:
  • Detailed history
  • Diet diary
  • Elimination diet
  • Skin test
  • Blood test
  • Food challenge.

Food Allergy Diagnosis: Detailed History

Asking a number of questions (known as a medical history) is the most valuable way of making a food allergy diagnosis. Your healthcare provider will ask you several questions and listen to your history of food reactions to decide if your answers are consistent with a food allergy.
Questions your healthcare provider might ask include:
  • What was the timing of your reaction?
  • Did your reaction come on quickly, usually within an hour after eating the food?
  • Did allergy medicines help? Antihistamines should relieve hives, for example.
  • Is your reaction always associated with a certain food?
  • Did anyone else who ate the same food get sick? For example, if you ate fish contaminated with histamine, everyone who ate the fish should be sick.
  • How much did you eat before you had a reaction? The severity of a reaction is sometimes related to the amount of food eaten.
  • How was the food prepared? Some people will have a violent allergic reaction only to raw or undercooked fish. Complete cooking of the fish may destroy the allergen, and they can then eat it with no allergic reaction.
  • Did you eat other foods at the same time you had the reaction? Some foods may delay digestion and thus delay the start of the allergic reaction.
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