Expert speak: Dr Maria Alonso, DHTC Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: More UAE residents are undergoing tests to determine their food allergies and intolerances, according to a private clinic.

“I see more than 100 patients a month with allergy or food intolerance symptoms and that number is rising,” said Dr Maria Ridao Alonso, Managing and Medical Director, Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre.

She told XPRESS a blood test analysis at a German lab in the UAE was an effective and reliable method to determine the causative agents for an allergy or food intolerance. “An IgE test helps to find out the different allergy-causing factors while an IgG test helps determine food intolerance substances. Every element in the blood is checked for IgE and IgG levels in order to derive at specific agents or elements that do not agree with a person. All tests are accurate and reliable.”

Dr Maria said some common food intolerances are caused by dairy, gluten, eggs and yeast. “Some fruits and vegetables also figure in the intolerance list.

“However, an individual is likely to be more intolerant to something they overeat. One is more likely to develop intolerance to foods they eat with extreme regularity. For example, I have seen intolerance to honey and dates in the UAE simply because people tend to eat more of them here,” she said.

So what’s the difference between food allergies and intolerances? “The effects of intolerance are slower-building and harder to identify. Usually symptoms like rashes, hives, swelling or breathing problems, sneezing etc. are typical of an allergy.

“Food intolerance is commonly manifested with symptoms of indigestion like gas, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation. Fatigue, headache, eczema, weight gain and water retention can also be a result of food intolerance,” she said.

Test yourself

A food intolerance test at DHTC costs around Dh2,350, a food allergy test (for up to 20 antigens/substances) is Dh400 and an inhalant allergy test (upto 20 antigens/ substances) also costs Dh400.