Understanding Allers and Intolerances
Food allergies are an immune system reaction caused by the release of antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).
These antibodies react with certain proteins in food to cause an allergic reaction. Signs and symptoms of a food allergy can range from skin rashes to anaphylaxis; anaphylaxis is potentially life-threatening, so you should avoid all foods that cause an allergic reaction and carry emergency injectable epinephrine for quick injection if needed.
Food allergies, food intolerances and celiac disease can affect people in different ways. Common symptoms include sneezing, wheezing, skin rashes, brain fog, joint pain, nausea, bloating and diarrhea.
Food allergies are caused when your immune system mistakenly reacts to a protein. Reactions can range in severity depending on which allergen you’re sensitive to, from mild to life-threatening depending on its composition.
Food allergies can manifest within minutes or up to two hours after consumption. The most serious type of reaction, anaphylaxis, may include wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Management of an allergy typically begins by learning which foods cause you to have a reaction and then avoiding them. You may need to exercise extra caution when dining out at restaurants; waiters and kitchen staff may not always be knowledgeable about the ingredients in menu items.
Diagnosing allergies and intolerances can be a challenging diagnosis. Doctors usually use a combination of physical exams, detailed medical histories, and testing to make a determination.
Food allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a specific food, while intolerances occur when the digestive system struggles to properly digest certain foods.
Food intolerances tend to be milder than food allergies, but they can still cause issues with digestion such as stomach pain, bloating and gas. They may also affect skin and eyes in subtle ways such as rashes or watery-eyes.
Doctors can diagnose food allergies by speaking with the patient, conducting a physical exam and performing either a skin prick test or blood test. They may also suggest an oral food challenge as another testing option: this involves administering a small amount of the suspected trigger food under close observation to see if any reaction occurs. This test is helpful when other tests prove inconclusive.
Food allergies are an abnormal response of your immune system to certain proteins found in certain foods. These reactions can be serious and life-threatening, so anyone with a food allergy should always carry emergency medications like epinephrine (adrenaline) with them at all times.
Allergy treatment typically involves avoiding the offending foods. Furthermore, over-the-counter antihistamines may provide temporary relief of symptoms.
Keeping a food diary can be beneficial in tracking your meals and symptoms. If you notice an pattern, speak with your doctor about testing for an intolerance.
Allergy treatment may involve decreasing your sensitivity to allergens through allergy immunotherapy. Therapies for this include sublingual (under the tongue), adhesive patches applied directly onto skin, or oral infusions.
Food allergies and intolerances can be avoided if you know which foods trigger your symptoms and which ones to avoid. Read food labels carefully, ask for special recipes, and steer clear of anything that could potentially elicit an allergy response.
A skin prick test or blood test can help identify foods you are allergic to and warn you what to avoid. These tests may be conducted at a doctor’s office or an allergist’s clinic.
An oral food challenge is another way to diagnose food allergies. This involves consuming small amounts of various types of foods and recording your reaction.
It is essential to be aware that food intolerances and allergic reactions often present similar symptoms, such as cramping, bloating, diarrhea, skin rash and itching. Therefore, it can be challenging to distinguish whether you have an allergy or intolerance.