The differences between a food allergy and a food intolerance
Though they may sound the same, there are a number of differences between a food allergy and a food intolerance. People tend to confuse the two as they both trigger unpleasant physical reactions. Food allergies, however, are usually more severe. They cause an immune system response that can affect multiple organs in the human body whereas a food intolerance is likely to wreak havoc on your digestive system if consumed in large doses.
Continue reading to find out how they differ and which one you may be suffering from.
Food allergies and food intolerances present different symptoms.
Those suffering from a food allergy tend to experience hives, itchiness, swelling of the mouth and throat, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea, an accelerated pulse, and even a loss of consciousness.
The symptoms of a food-related allergic reaction tend to develop quicker than the symptoms of a food intolerance. They usually present themselves within 2 hours but can also take up to 4-6 hours.
A food intolerance, on the other hand, is likely to upset the digestive system and cause gas, bloating, and diarrhoea. These symptoms usually take longer to emerge and do not last as long.
Some people also suffer from a series of food allergies as well as food intolerances. This makes the process of obtaining an official diagnosis much more difficult and time-consuming. An online or in-person provider of allergy or intolerance testing may be able to identify which foods are likely to cause you pain and discomfort and which to avoid.
If you are based in Essex, the Healthy Life Essex Allergy and Intolerance Testing Directory features testing services in Chelmsford, Maldon and Westcliff-on-Sea
Whether you are suffering from a food allergy or food intolerance will determine your ongoing treatment plan. They both require different treatment approaches.
Food allergy sufferers may experience a minor or major reaction when they are exposed to or consume a trigger food. According to a recent study, around 20% of people suffer a severe allergic reaction and must completely avoid certain foods and food groups. The severity and frequency of your food allergy will allow your doctor to prescribe a suitable course of action.
Anaphylaxis is a common but potentially fatal side effect of a food allergy. It is the name given to a severe, life-threatening reaction to a food or medication that can cause skin rashes, swelling, and difficulty breathing. It is controlled by maintaining a diet free of trigger foods.
A food intolerance requires less treatment. The best option is adjusting your diet and eliminating foods that set you off. A food diary can allow you to track what you are putting into your body and identify the culprit in a fraction of the time.
Reactions to food allergies and food intolerances can be prevented. The main preventative measure is to identify any trigger foods ahead of time and take steps to avoid them in large or small quantities. You must take the time to carefully read labels on food packaging to ensure you are not accidentally ingesting an ingredient that could cause you considerable pain and discomfort down the line.
If you know you suffer from a severe allergic reaction, you may benefit from carrying an epinephrine autoinjector, or EpiPen, with you at all times in the event of a crisis. They can provide you with an emergency dose of epinephrine to relax your muscles and open your airwaves, decreasing the chances of you having difficulty breathing and even losing consciousness.
A food intolerance tends to be easier to avoid. The best way to avoid discomfort is to stray away from food or food groups you know are likely to trigger a minor unpleasant reaction. Online or in-person food intolerance testing will be able to highlight any triggers and advise you on how to partially or fully cut them out of your diet.
Common trigger foods
Although you can develop an allergy or intolerance to a wide range of different foods, certain trigger foods tend to be more frequently reported than others. Researchers have uncovered how 8 foods account for over 90% of food allergies. These are:
- tree nuts,
Sufferers must avoid these foods at all costs and product labels must identify early on or in bold lettering whether one or more of these trigger foods are included in the ingredient list.
The most common trigger foods when it comes to food intolerances tend to be:
- red meat.
It can be difficult to tell whether you are suffering from a food allergy or a food intolerance. There are several differences between the two. This includes which symptoms arise, the most suitable form of treatment, and how to prevent them from developing in the first place. By knowing how to differentiate the two, you can obtain a diagnosis and adapt your diet accordingly.