5 Tests to Help Diagnose a Food Intolerance or Allergy

5 Tests to Help Diagnose a Food Intolerance or Allergy

If you live with chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation, it can be debilitating. The fear of having adverse gastrointestinal conditions may keep you at home near your bathroom. You may live like this for years, not knowing the root cause of your condition. Also, you might possibly be too embarrassed to discuss your symptoms with your healthcare practitioner.

On the other hand, you may have already undergone so many tests and procedures without finding a solution that you continue to suffer, feeling as though there is truly no solution. What do you do when your doctor has ruled out relatively common diagnoses, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), yet you still have non-specific symptoms pointing to a gastrointestinal condition? Have you ever thought you could have a food intolerance?

A food intolerance is a response to a food your system has trouble digesting. For example, Sucrose Intolerance, medically known as Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID), lactose intolerance, and gluten intolerance are all food intolerances. There are several methods to help determine if a food intolerance exists.

Food Diary

A food diary is a tool used to track everything you eat on a day-to-day basis. A doctor may recommend a diary in an effort to determine when symptoms are occurring and if those symptoms are related to foods you consume. Tracking everything you eat, along with your mood and physical condition, is important.

Are you feeling anxious? Have you been sick with the flu? Do you have a headache? Are you in a hurry and eating on the run? Each of these situations can affect digestion and how you may feel after eating. Alternatively, one sneaky ingredient may be the culprit for the stomach discomfort. Gathering as much information as possible is important in tracking down your problem.

Several food diary templates, as well as apps, can be downloaded onto a smartphone. Choose one that is the most helpful and inspires your participation. Here is a list of the five, best food-tracking apps, found at healthline.com. Apps can provide very detailed information about food down to the brand. They also have reminders to help you stay on track.

FODMAP Elimination Diet

After reviewing a food diary, a doctor may request you try a FODMAP elimination diet. Not a diet used for weight loss, a FODMAP elimination diet is one in which certain foods suspected of triggering a negative gastrointestinal response are removed from the diet. FODMAP is an acronym outlining specific carbohydrates that are known to cause non-specific gastrointestinal symptoms like gas, bloating constipation, and diarrhea. You must first eliminate these foods from your diet for two-to-eight weeks and then reintroduce them one by one to see which foods are tolerated and which foods cause symptoms.

Blood Test

Blood tests are most often used to rule out a food allergy. A food allergy is an immune response by the body to something consumed or even just touched. The onset of symptoms occurs immediately since the body is releasing antibodies to fight the unwanted food in the system. In regard to food intolerances, blood tests are most often used to diagnose either celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, and lactose intolerance, the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose.

Sucrose Hydrogen Breath Test

A sucrose hydrogen breath test can be used to aid in diagnosing individuals suffering from Sucrose Intolerance, medically known as Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID). CSID is a condition in which you are unable to digest common white table sugar and starch. In other words, with Sucrose Intolerance, your body lacks an important enzyme that allows your digestive system to break down sucrose.

You begin the breath test by drinking a solution containing sucrose. Then you breathe into a bag every 15 to 20 minutes as you digest the solution. After each breathing session, a doctor uses a syringe to empty the bag. The air is measured to see if any hydrogen is present. In a normal evaluation, very little hydrogen is present. However, if you have a Sucrose Intolerance, undigested sucrose in the colon will ferment and cause hydrogen gas to develop, indicating that Sucrose Intolerance might exist. While sucrose hydrogen breath tests are fairly simple to do, they can take two to three hours and can give you GI symptoms if you have a sucrose intolerance.


An endoscopy is a procedure used to take a look at your digestive tract. This is procedure used to help diagnose CSID and celiac disease. In an endoscopy, a scope is inserted through the mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach and small intestine, giving the physician a clear view of the digestive system and the option of taking a sample of the tissue. The samples are then studied to look for the symptoms of CSID or evidence of damage and inflammation from celiac disease.

Under the supervision of a doctor, each of these tests is helpful in diagnosing a food intolerance.

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