The energy slumps, low moods, irritability and general malaise can be due to stress, hormones, pollutants, parabens in sprays, deodorants and cleaning agents, you name it, the list is seemingly endless! so lets review home allergy testing kits.

You could have stomach problems to boot, gut aches, cramps, gargling, bloating and distension. If you are nodding in agreement then you have been given an outright sign that there is possibly an underlying intolerance, allergy or autoimmune condition at the root of your problems.

Time to do some exploring then.

Remember this, not everybody with an intolerance, allergy or autoimmune condition presents with gut ache, in fact, the luckier ones are those that actually do react acutely with upset guts because this compels them to take action. Some unsuspecting patients of mine (when I held a Gastro clinic in the NHS) would present with no symptoms at all other than lethargy and headaches, taking them months or even years to identify the gastrointestinal cause. These are known as silent symptoms, and they can be causing underlying damage to the lining of the gut without the person even knowing.

So, if any of the above apply to you, your immediate thought should be to pop to the Doctors for an assessment. Right? If only that were the case! You know you should, but then you remember the unbearable queue on the phone just to get an appointment, painful isn’t it. Then irrational justifications kick in for good measure, the horror images you conjure in your head of Doctors slapping on rubber gloves and applying Vaseline, coming at you with funny looking contraptions and implements!

Hell no!!!

Suddenly ‘money ain’t a thing’ anymore with your Visa Debit firmly in hand. Before you know it you’ve frantically started Google searching ‘Home allergy testing kits’. At this stage, in your mind, anything is better than visiting a REAL Doctor!

Hey, maybe this isn’t you, maybe you just prefer the convenience of home testing kits? Well what if I told you that Dr Adam Fox, an allergy specialist from Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital insists that they DO NOT WORK, and you really should put down the debit card and sllooowwwlllyyy walk away with your hands on your head.

Money maker

Now this isn’t to say that the companies selling these home allergy or intolerance tests are unfounded money grabbers, but they kind of are unfounded money grabbers.

There is no malice in what they do, aside from glaring contraindications that they ignore. Take ZERO solid scientific backing as one example, there simply isn’t any reliable research out there that validates the use of home testing kits… unless one of the companies happen to have blood test analysers, breath testers, biopsy apparatus and a surgeon on mail order that is? Nope didn’t think so.

Oh wait, I know somewhere that offers that, it’s called the GP practice or a Hospital, and that is exactly where one should go if they suspect an underlying allergy or intolerance (especially an autoimmune condition such as Coeliac disease). I know the NHS is inundated but you owe it to yourself to find out the underlying cause. It may not be an allergy or intolerance at all.

OK, I have been a tad cynical and even sarcastic, forgive me as I do understand the anxiety and distress gastrointestinal stress can cause, but I find the plethora of companies selling these tests a little frustrating and hard to stomach (excuse the pun). It may be that compelling peer reviewed studies will surface, supporting the use of hair samples or finger prick tests in diagnosing intolerances, allergies and maybe even autoimmune disease, I really hope they do.

Until then it is best to contact your local allergy clinic there are hundreds across the UK, so find the nearest one to you, your GP or local medical practice for the correct course of action. It is NOT wasting their time at all, it is the right thing to do.

NOTE: You might come across the coeliac tests you can get online, now although these do require a finger prick and blood sample which does increase validity slightly, they CANNOT diagnose coeliac disease. Basically these tests can tell you that you DON’T have coeliac disease based on the absence of certain antibodies (generally IgA and IgA tTG). Even these tests are in no way able to diagnose, but they do act as a good indicator, you would then need a biopsy to confirm.

Save your money

That is all. On the whole then you could spend your hard earned cash on these tests, but at best you would rule out or partially identify a possible risk of coeliac disease, but there is way more other variable than this to consider.

You could also receive a reading for IgE antibodies from a finger prick test, which may well be helpful in diagnosing an allergy in general, but trying to identify the specific allergy is another matter entirely.

NHS Choices list some of the various causes of allergies which the above tests would do little to diagnose:

– Grass and tree pollen i.e. hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
– Dust mites
– Animal dust or saliva
– Food – The list is extensive but main culprits include nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and dairy
– Insect bites/stings
– Medications
– Latex – gloves and condoms
– Mould –particles in the air
– Sprays, detergents, chemicals etc.

To accurately get to the root cause of your complaint your allergy clinic/ practitioner will perform one of a few tests including either:

Skin prick test – painless prick of the skin with potential allergen e.g. food, dust etc and observe any raised bump or redness after 15mins

Blood test – used instead of or alongside a skin prick test

Patch Test – Potential allergens are applied to metal discs and placed on your skin for 48hrs to observe any reaction

Elimination or Empirical Diet – This is more my area (obvs), this involves the elimination of a suspected problematic food for a period of a couple of weeks to see if symptoms improve. The gradual reintroduction of suspected food may or may not trigger a reaction which could single out the allergen (to be done under the supervision of an medical professional).

Challenge Testing – Another food allergy test whereby the patient is fed gradually increasing amounts of a suspected food allergen to see if/when a reaction occurs. This one MUST be performed under close supervision in an allergy clinic where appropriate treatment is available should a reaction occur.

Allergy testing kits – Yeah, the NHS say they are shite too. Pop to your local clinic if you suspect an allergy guys. Seriously.

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