What’s the difference between food allergy and food intolerance?
Many of us would not know the difference between food allergy and food intolerance. It’s important to understand what it means.
A food allergy is a response of the immune system and it can affect many different organs in the body. In certain cases, a food allergy can be so severe that it may cause hospitalization and even death. Eight foods are credited to cause 90% of food allergies. They are tree nuts, fish, milk, egg, peanuts, shell fish, wheat and soy. However, food allergies can be individualistic, and any food may cause an allergic reaction.
Food intolerance is milder than a food allergy and usually creates only digestive problems. Smaller quantities of the food may be tolerated. There are ways of getting around this problem, for instance if you have lactose intolerance, you can go in for lactose-free milk.
Symptoms of food intolerance
The symptoms may include one a combination of gastrointestinal problems like bloating and wind, diarrhea, nausea and indigestion. It can also increase the severity of eczema or asthma. Sometimes food intolerances may be mistaken for other medical conditions as the symptoms could be similar. That’s why it’s important to consult a doctor so that other health problems can be ruled out.
How to avoid food intolerance
Stay away from foods that you are intolerant to. Keep a food diary to keep track of foods that you are intolerant to and note down the symptoms. You can try and remove the food you suspect from your diet for a period of two to six weeks and check if symptoms improve. Meet a nutritionist to ascertain that you are getting adequate nutrients even if you cut out those products from your diet.
Symptoms of food allergy
Food allergy can manifest as a wide range of symptoms that may include tingling or itching in the mouth, itchy red rash, swelling of the face, mouth and throat or other areas of the body, wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing, abdominal pain, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, itching eyes, sneezing and so on.
How to avoid food allergy
Keep a food diary so that you can clearly identify foods that you are allergic to. You do not necessarily have to eat the food to have an allergic reaction, even merely inhaling its aroma or contact with the skin can cause reactions. Read food labels clearly and avoid packed foods where ingredients are not clearly mentioned. Avoid buffets as you may not know the ingredients used. If you are prescribed an injectable epinephrine pen for your allergy, make sure you always carry it with you. Wear a medical band that states food allergies. Always have a name and telephone number of an emergency contact.