This isn’t a news article or a blog post, but I’m posting it here because I learned this week that there are no standard tests for most food allergies. This boggles my mind! While certain food allergies can be tested through skin scratching, blood tests, or trial & error, I had both an allergist and a gastroenterologist tell me that modern medicine has not yet come up with a way to test for allergies to the majority of food additives and preservatives. Seriously? Shouldn’t our understanding of these additives be advanced enough at the time of their approval that we could at least find standard methods for testing potential allergies/intolerance? That’s easy for me to say, but in reality I imagine quite difficult to accomplish.
I should pause momentarily and tell you that I’ve recently tried to approach my own preventative or diagnostic medical appointments through more of an academic lens. I don’t know about other Ph.D.s, but I am certainly guilty of turning off that logical part of my brain when it comes to my own body and things that may or may not freak-me-the-hell-out. Although my sister works in a major children’s hospital on the east coast as a post-doctoral researcher, sometimes I forget that medicine functions in the same way as other scholarly pursuits. For example, I recently came to the startling, yet completely obvious, realization that I don’t always clearly communicate a medical condition that I have dealt with my entire life partly because the scientists studying it had a very different understanding in the early 1980s as they do today (and appear to have used different terminology).
When I went to the allergist this week I was hoping for a simple answer to a puzzle that has perplexed me for years – why do certain foods, restaurants, preparations make me feel terrible when others don’t? While I did not receive an answer to that question, I was reminded of the reality of modern medicine and its dependency on academic research. Again, sounds obvious, but it’s crazy what we take for granted when living in a relatively healthy, able, body. So many other people are not so lucky.
“There’s no standard test used to confirm or rule out a food allergy. Your doctor will consider a number of things before making a diagnosis. The following may help determine if you’re allergic to a food or if your symptoms are caused by something else”via Food allergy: Tests and diagnosis – MayoClinic.com.