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What Are Food Panel Tests, And How Do They Work?

scientist working in a lab

Do you think that you may have a food allergy or sensitivity? If so, you may have heard of food panel tests, but you might not be sure exactly what they are or how they work. Food panel tests are diagnostic tools used to identify food allergies and sensitivities. They are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people begin to pay closer attention to the relationship between their health and their diet.

In this blog post, we will explain what food panel tests are and how they work, as well as discuss the difference between food allergies and sensitivities and compare do-it-yourself tests with professional diagnostics.

What are food allergy tests, and how do they work?

Food allergies are serious medical conditions that can have life-threatening consequences if not properly managed. A food allergy is an immune system reaction to a particular food that causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and hives. Food sensitivities, on the other hand, involve less severe reactions such as bloating, headache, and fatigue. Although not life-threatening, food sensitivities can still be disruptive to daily life.

In order to identify and manage food allergies or sensitivities, individuals may need to undergo testing. Food allergy panel tests, also known as food sensitivity tests, are designed to identify the specific foods that may be causing an individual’s symptoms. The types of tests available vary from over-the-counter tests to more comprehensive lab-based tests administered by healthcare providers.

hand holding a vial with blue fluid in a lab setting

Over-the-counter food allergy tests are typically DIY kits that allow individuals to test for food sensitivities from home. These kits come in various forms and generally involve collecting saliva, urine, or finger-prick blood samples, then sending them to a lab for analysis. Results can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to receive and often include a list of sensitivities along with some dietary advice. While these tests can provide useful information, they are not always accurate and should not be relied upon as a definitive diagnosis.

Professional food allergy tests may be the best choice for those looking for a more comprehensive testing option. Trained healthcare professionals administer these tests and involve collecting a blood sample that is sent to a laboratory for analysis. They are much more accurate than DIY kits and may be able to identify hidden food allergies and sensitivities that would otherwise go undetected. Health insurance may also cover professional tests, depending on your policy.

Overall, several options are available for individuals who suspect they may have a food allergy or sensitivity. Over-the-counter tests can provide some useful insight into which foods may be causing symptoms. However, professional tests administered by healthcare providers are the most reliable way to identify and manage food allergies and sensitivities.

Additionally, it’s important to note that food allergies can change over time, so it’s important to consult with a qualified physician before making any major changes to your diet based on at-home test results. Once you know what foods you’re allergic to or sensitive to, it’s important to avoid contact with those foods and create an emergency plan in case you accidentally come into contact with them. Taking proactive steps to protect yourself can help you reduce the risk of developing potentially dangerous symptoms.

How to choose the right food allergy test for you

Food allergies and sensitivities can profoundly impact our health and well-being, so it’s important to get the right testing to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Various tests are available to detect food allergies and sensitivities, so it’s important to know which one is best for you.

Over-the-Counter DIY Tests

If you’re looking for an at-home solution, several over-the-counter DIY food allergy tests can be done in the privacy of your own home. These tests work by using a skin prick test to check for an allergic reaction. Although they can provide useful information, they don’t always provide accurate results and should only be used as a guideline.

person using an OTC test

If you think you may have a food allergy or sensitivity, it’s important to get a professional test conducted by a healthcare professional. Professional tests are typically more reliable than DIY tests and can accurately diagnose allergies and sensitivities. Professional tests are usually conducted in a lab and involve taking blood samples to check for certain antibodies.

At-Home Professional Tests

Getting tested by a healthcare professional doesn’t always have to mean going into a lab or doctor’s office. Mobile healthcare providers are now offering at-home professional tests, which can make testing more accessible for those with busy schedules or mobility challenges.

It’s important to remember that if you think you may have a food allergy or sensitivity, the best option is to consult with a healthcare professional. They will be able to accurately diagnose and treat any food allergies or sensitivities you may have.

Depending on the severity of your condition, they may also recommend a panel test – a type of specialized diagnostic test designed to identify a wide range of potential allergens. A panel test works by measuring levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE) – a type of antibody produced in response to allergens – in the body. This can help identify both immediate and delayed reactions to foods and other potential allergens. In addition to IgE, some panel tests may also measure other types of antibodies, such as Immunoglobulin G (IgG), Immunoglobulin A (IgA), and Immunoglobulin M (IgM). This helps create an even more comprehensive picture of what allergens are causing adverse reactions.


Food allergy and sensitivity tests are a great way to gain insight into your dietary choices. Various testing methods are available, from DIY tests to professional diagnostics, so it’s important to research and decide which is right for you. Ultimately, if you believe you have a food allergy or sensitivity, it’s best to consult with a doctor in order to get the most accurate diagnosis and proper treatment plan. This can help ensure that any health issues associated with food allergies or sensitivities are properly addressed. If a doctor doesn’t think that traditional allergy tests are necessary, they might suggest getting an elimination diet-based test instead. This involves removing certain foods from your diet for a set period before slowly reintroducing them to see how your body responds. Doing this can help narrow down potential allergens that might be causing your symptoms.

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Lab Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to do lab tests occasionally?

It is important to do lab tests occasionally because they can provide valuable information about an individual's health and help to identify potential health issues early on. Lab tests can measure a wide range of factors, including blood count, cholesterol levels, liver and kidney function, and hormone levels, and can provide insight into an individual's overall health and wellness. Additionally, lab tests can help to diagnose and monitor the progression of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and can help to identify any potential health risks or concerns. By doing lab tests occasionally, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain their health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of potential health problems in the future.

What does a routine blood test cover?

A routine blood test is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. Blood tests can also be used to check how well certain organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are functioning.

How is a blood sample collected for lab testing?

A blood sample for lab testing is typically collected through a process called venipuncture, which involves inserting a small needle into a vein to draw blood. This is usually done on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

What is the cost of a lab test?

In general, the cost of a lab test can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It is always best to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to get an accurate estimate of the cost of a lab test.

Read More: Lab Testing FAQ