Articles: navigating food sensitivity diagnoses

There is too much misinformation about food sensitivity issues. Sadly, the disconnect between patients and doctors, facts and rumors, studies and published content, awareness and ignorance, funding and bias puts many people– children being the most vulnerable– at risk.

Misconception 1: Food sensitivity and food allergy are merely a matter of semantics.

Actuality: There are several different classifications of sensitivity, including delayed reactions. Though sensitivity can include intolerance, not all reactions are necessarily symptomatic of an allergy.

Misconception 2: Self-diagnosis is sufficient.

Actuality: While narrowing down the cause of your symptoms is helpful to avoid potentially dangerous or fatal reactions in the meantime, a formal medical diagnosis needs to be included in your medical history. This will be especially important if you ever require emergency medical treatment, regardless of whether or not you’re capable of advocating for yourself.

Furthermore, narrowing down your treatment options can be helpful to avoid multiple recurring costly visits to doctors whose specialty is far from the field of study that includes your particular condition. However, you still need the advisement and supervision of someone who can help, especially if you end up requiring prescription medication.

Misconception 3: Just see an allergist; they can unequivocally diagnose food allergies.

Actuality: Knowledge and experience of doctors widely varies with very little consistency. Additionally, skin prick tests– which frequently show false positives— are too heavily relied upon.

Misconception 4: A treating physician, or at least their nurse, will record all my symptoms/ descriptions of my reactions in your medical file.

Actuality: More often than not, certain information doesn’t get recorded in your medical history. This happens for a variety of reasons: you’re forgetful or distracted, especially with a gaggle of children in tow; an assistant is distracted/ multitasking and not actively listening; the nurse assumes/ tries to predict which details are relevant; insurance companies pressure doctors to not diagnose things for which they don’t want to pay.

Before an appointment, write/ type a list of current symptoms with the date on top and bring it with you. Insist it go in your file*. It is your file; you may include absolutely anything you like (hypothetically, you could include a photo of your cat or a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies if you want). It’s your file. Your’s. Even in countries, such as Canada, or states* that consider a medical file property of the physician/ medical facility, the information contained therein is still the property of the patient. It is your own personal medical information. Your’s.

Misconception 5: Muscle testing (NAET via holistic health care provider) is a diagnostic tool where someone holds food in their hand to see if it causes weakness. (This was specifically explained in my series, wellness’ tour de force.)

Actuality: The common description of this diagnostic tool is almost always grossly oversimplified and inaccurately portrayed by strict proponents of Western Medicine, who either feel threatened by its effectiveness or who make blanket judgments based on instances of bad holistic specialists, who are equally as prevalent as bad MDs.

Personally, I first tried it out of pure skepticism, i.e. “Watch what happens when I skew the results and debunk your voodoo” after trying every other treatment. Without knowing before or during the procedure which foods were being tested, I was shocked that the results confirmed those substances about which I already knew thus lending it credibility. I was genuinely relieved by its ability to target sensitivities of which I was previously unaware. I felt so much better after making alterations to my diet based on the results!

Misconception 6: Blood work proves food allergies.

Actuality: IgE testing only shows the likelihood of allergy. There are several different ways to narrow down the most likely culprit(s) of food sensitivity; diagnosis is like putting together a puzzle.

Misconception 7: Figuring out what a doctor included in his notes is difficult and cannot be altered.

Actuality: According to Federal law*, patients may access their medical records at any time. A statement of amended information (correcting previously recording inaccuracy) is tedious but allowed. Know your rights!

Misconception 8: The doctor knows best.

Actuality: A medical treatment provider is only as good as their training and updated knowledge.

A trustworthy doctor has your best interest at heart*; though they are paid by an insurance company*, they work for you, the patient. You can ask as many questions as you need to understand what’s being said and can even request a second opinion. Know your rights! Too often physicians continue to get away with unethical practices because they’re never reported.

*in the United States of America

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