What Is Food Intolerance
A food intolerance isn’t the same as a food allergy.
People with food intolerance may have symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating and stomach cramps. This may be caused by difficulties digesting certain substances, such as lactose. However, no allergic reaction takes place.
Important differences between a food allergy and a food intolerance include:
- the symptoms of a food intolerance usually occur several hours after eating the food
- you need to eat a larger amount of food to trigger an intolerance than an allergy
- a food intolerance is never life threatening, unlike an allergy
Read more about food intolerance.
Page last reviewed: 15 April 2019 Next review due: 15 April 2022
Can My Child Receive Oit For Multiple Foods
OIT is most often used to manage a food allergy to one food. But OIT with multiple food allergens is still being actively studied. One study has shown positive results for OIT with multiple foods at the same time.7 But more research is needed.
If your child is allergic to multiple foods and you want to consider OIT, talk with your childs allergist. Your child may be eligible to enroll in clinical trial studies on OIT for multiple foods or foods other than peanut.
When To Call 911
Seek emergency care if some or all of the following occur after eating a suspected food allergen:
- Shortness of breath
- Severe skin rash or hives
- Dizziness or fainting
- Swelling of the face, tongue, or throat
- A weak, rapid pulse
- Difficulty swallowing
- A feeling of impending doom
A food allergy reaction typically occurs within 20 to 30 minutes after consumption of the food. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can lead to shock, coma, heart or respiratory failure, and death.
Side effects of epinephrine include rapid heartbeats, sweating, shakiness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and anxiety. Epinephrine should be used with caution in people with severe heart conditions, but its benefits in treating anaphylaxis almost universally outweigh the risks.
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Issues Mistakenly Linked To Food Allergies
Although some people think certain illnesses can be caused by food allergies, evidence doesn’t back up such claims. Histamines in cheese or red wine, for example, can trigger migraines. But we can’t say that food allergies actually cause migraines. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis aren’t made worse by foods. Food allergies don’t cause “allergic tension fatigue syndrome,” where people get tired, nervous, and may have problems concentrating or headaches.
Cerebral allergy is a term that describes when mast cells are supposedly releasing their chemicals in the brain — and nowhere else in the body — causing trouble concentrating and headaches. Most doctors don’t recognize cerebral allergy as a disorder.
Even when their surroundings are very clean, some people have many general complaints like problems concentrating, fatigue, or depression. Environmental illness may be the result of small amounts of allergens or toxins, but not food allergies.
Researchers have found that hyperactivity in children may be related to food additives, but only occasionally and only when the child has had a lot of them. A food allergy won’t directly affect a child’s behavior, although their symptoms might make them cranky and difficult, and allergy medications can make them sleepy.
Wondering If You Have One Find Out Here
Because a food intolerance lasts for just a few days at a time, you may not be questioning your nausea or your headaches. But with the increasing prevalence of food allergies and food sensitivities, these issues can be very serious.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine if you have a food sensitivity:
- Do you feel abdominal pain within 2 hours after eating any of the foods on this list?
- Do you feel nauseous after eating?
- Have you ever had a severe headache or a migraine after eating or drinking a specific thing?
- Do you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, but notice it really flares up after eating certain foods?
- Do you have frequent headaches accompanied by nasal congestion?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a food intolerance. Start taking note of the foods you consume that trigger your symptoms. Again, be sure to set an appointment with your healthcare professional to discuss further steps to manage your condition.
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How Food Allergies Work
Food allergies involve two parts of your immune system. One is immunoglobulin E , a type of protein called an antibody that moves through the blood. The other is mast cells, which you have in all body tissues but especially in places like your nose, throat, lungs, skin, and digestive tract.
The first time you eat a food you’re allergic to, certain cells make a lot of IgE for the part of the food that triggers your allergy, called an allergen. The IgE gets released and attaches to the surface of mast cells. You won’t have a reaction yet, but now you’re set up for one.
The next time you eat that food, the allergen interacts with that IgE and triggers the mast cells to release chemicals such as histamine. Depending on the tissue they’re in, these chemicals will cause various symptoms. And since some food allergens aren’t broken down by the heat of cooking or by stomach acids or enzymes that digest food, they can cross into your bloodstream. From there, they can travel and cause allergic reactions throughout your body.
The digestion process affects the timing and the location. You may feel itching in your mouth. Then you may have symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or belly pain. Food allergens in your blood can cause a drop in blood pressure. As they reach your skin, they can trigger hives or eczema. In the lungs, they may cause wheezing. All of this takes place within a few minutes to an hour.
Treatment For Food Allergy
The treatment for a food allergy attack begins with cooling the skin down and preventing the itching by applying cooling lotion containing cortisone. The doctors also suggest antihistamine to calm your skin and prevent the itchiness. Sedative are offered to calm down the nerves so that the food allergy attack does not become severe. Exposure therapy where you are tested with little of the allergic food at regular periods so that you can become used to it is often carried out by the doctors. Other medicines for helping you to breathe and bringing down the swelling in your internal organs are prescribed by the doctors when required. Treating children is difficult because the best way to avoid a food allergy attack is to avoid the food which cannot always be done for kids thus the parents need to be careful about what the kid is having.
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Tests To Diagnose Food Allergy
There are no prominent tests for food allergy that will prove your allergic nature and the substance that is causing it. Answering the doctors to most of their questions will help them make an informed decision. Blood tests and testing you with various foods may also give the result. Sometimes you yourself can identify the allergic cause since the recent intake causes the allergy and there are certain food items that often people appear to be allergic to. Often the self-identification is possible and thus lab tests are not required.
What Are The Causes Of Food Allergies
The main cause of food allergy is still unknown. Both heredity and environmental factors may play an important role in the development of food allergy. These allergens in the food are basically those that carry out an allergic reaction.
If you have a sibling or parent with any allergenic condition like eczema, food allergy or asthma then you may have a higher risk of developing food allergies as well. Also, children who suffer from eczema in their childhood are more prone to food allergy as well.
The mechanism of food allergy involves the immune system and genetic makeup. There are certain foods that trigger food allergies in children and adults.
Foods responsible for an allergic reaction in children are:
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Use A Saline Sinus Rinse
When allergies cause sinus problems, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommend a person rinse their sinuses with saline. This can remove allergens and clear the airways.
The AAAAI recommend the following saline recipe:
- mix 3 teaspoons of salt with 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 8 ounces of boiled water
- dissolve the mixture in the water then use as a saline rinse
Sinus rinsing devices can be purchased online or from a pharmacy.
Food Allergies In Infants And Children
Milk and soy allergies are particularly common in infants and young children, probably because their immune and digestive systems are still developing. These allergies can appear within days to months of birth. They may not show up as hives and asthma, but rather lead to colic and perhaps blood in poop or poor growth.
Typically, the doctor sees a very unhappy colicky child who may not sleep well at night and diagnoses a food allergy partly by changing their diet, like switching from cow’s milk to soy formula. This type of allergy tends to disappear within a few years.
Doctors recommend only breastfeeding infants for the first 4-6 months, if possible, for many reasons, but there’s no proof that it prevents food allergies later in life. While some pregnant women may hope limiting their diets while they’re pregnant or breastfeeding may help their children avoid allergies, the experts disagree and don’t suggest it. Soy formula isn’t a good way to prevent allergies either.
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How Can I Prevent Food Allergies
There is no known way to prevent food allergies in adults. In babies, breastfeeding in the first six months of life may prevent milk allergy. Early introduction of highly allergenic foods such as peanut protein and eggs into the diet may also have a preventative effect. Please discuss with your healthcare provider.
Causes Of Food Allergy
The basic cause of food allergy is that the food overreacts to immune your body from the substance that it is not comfortable with. Any food can trigger the allergy. If you are atopic that is if the tendency to show allergic reactions is inherited by you then you will have food allergy often. Another cause of food allergy is your body reacting abnormally to the food like it happens with people who have gluten allergy. Here the persons small intestine is not functional enough to take nutrients from all kinds of food. Sometimes Cross-reactivity is the cause where people become allergic to similar products, like if a person is allergic to pollen he or she might also be allergic to a vegetable which contains pollen. Having food allergy after exercise is known as exercise induced food allergy is another serious concern as it might lead to anaphylaxis and to prevent this one should not eat immediately after exercising. The food might also contain certain chemicals which your body is not suited for. This also can cause allergic reactions.
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What Are The Treatment Options For A Food Allergy
Theres no cure, pill or magic treatment for a food allergy. The best practices involve either decreasing the allergen in the diet or eliminating it altogether.
If someone has many food allergies, we might suggest a rotation diet where you still eat the allergic foods, but you rotate how often you eat them and make sure you are not eating multiple allergens in one day.
Another option might be an anti-histamine diet, which involves avoiding foods that produce histamine. Nightshade plants, which include tomatoes and eggplant, are histamine producers and can make allergic symptoms worse.
I also recommend a 21-day elimination diet to rule out foods that trigger an allergic response. This involves taking one food out of the diet for 21 days to see if you feel better. If you notice an improvement, that food likely contributed to your food allergy.
In rare cases, some providers might give you small amounts of the allergen over a prescribed amount of time. There is some evidence to suggest this could be helpful in overcoming an allergy.
Immunotherapy: What Is It
Its a process designed to get the body used to an allergen. A very small amount of the allergen is used to trigger a small response. Repeated and controlled exposure to tiny amounts over the course of several years can lessen the allergens effect. But there have been cases where immunotherapy has eliminated the allergic reaction entirely.
In professional food allergy circles, immunotherapy is still considered experimental and is not yet standard treatment. However, much research has been done and is on-going. Many immunotherapy treatments have yielded successful results. If youre interested in participating in these types of treatments, talk to your doctor.
Some refer to immunotherapy as desensitization therapy. There are a handful of ways that doctors administer these food allergy treatments. They are as follows: orally , sublingually , epicutaneously , and subcutaneously .
Inviting traces of an allergen into your body by swallowing a pill may sound scary. However, oral immunotherapy trials have mostly delivered positive results. The issue is that the side effect risk is high compared to most immunotherapy methods.
Can Food Allergies Be Prevented Or Avoided
Once a food allergy is diagnosed, avoid the food that cause it. If you have an allergy, you must read the labels on all prepared foods you eat. Your doctor can help you learn how to avoid eating the wrong foods. If your child has food allergies, give his or her school and other care providers instructions of what foods to avoid. Tell them what to do if the food is accidentally eaten. There is no cure for food allergy.
What Tests Are Used To Diagnose Food Allergies
If you suspect you have a food allergy, allergy/immunology providers can perform a skin test to confirm it. During a skin test, your healthcare provider:
Areas of your skin that become red and itchy indicate an allergy. Your healthcare provider uses this information to determine what youre allergic to.
Your healthcare provider may also use a radioallergosorbent blood test . A RAST checks the levels of allergic antibody to different allergens in your blood. Raised levels of specific antibodies can indicate an allergy.
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How To Treat Food Allergies: Pharmacological Treatments
Whats meant by pharmacological is a treatment that can be acquired with a doctors prescription or one that can be purchased at a store. An allergist, pediatrician, or another medical professional can prescribe the product thats best for your situation. Pharmacological treatments are typically not preventative in nature. They treat the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Difference Between Food Allergy Rash & Food Intolerance
Food Allergy Rashes
A food allergy occurs when your immune system attacks the proteins found in a certain food, considering it as a pathogen.
Food intolerance is basically a digestive problem which has similar symptoms like a food allergy.
Food allergy rash occurs within minutes or hours after consuming the food you are allergic to.
Food intolerance can develop non-itchy rashes on your arms which is also known as chicken skin.It happens over time.
If you are allergic to a certain food, even a small amount can be dangerous.
With food intolerance, a small amount may not create a huge problem.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology many cases initially suspected as food allergy rashes are later diagnosed as food intolerance. Hence, self-diagnosis is not suggested. If you get rashes after consuming certain foods, visit a doctor to determine the condition.
The best way to avoid food allergies is by eliminating the food item from your diet permanently, once you are able to identify the allergen. You can visit a doctor and seek medical advice on treating the condition. However, whats more important is diagnosis to take necessary steps to prevent it. Your doctor will suggest different tests to find out the accurate causes and help you with the dos and don’ts. Besides taking medications, make sure to practice healthy lifestyle routines, eat a healthy diet, and take necessary precautions to stop it from recurring.
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What Skin And Blood Tests Diagnose The Causes Of Food Allergies
- Skin tests: In a percutaneous skin prick-puncture skin test, a dilute extract of the suspected food is placed on the skin of the forearm or back. This portion of the skin then is punctured or pricked with a needle and observed for swelling or redness, which would signify a local allergic reaction to the food. A positive prick-puncture test indicates that the patient has the IgE antibody that is specific for the food being tested on the skin’s mast cells. Skin tests are rapid, simple, and relatively safe.
- A person can have a positive skin test to a food allergen, however, without experiencing allergic reactions to that food. A doctor diagnoses a food allergy only when the patient has a positive skin test to a specific allergen and the history suggests an allergic reaction to the same food. In some highly allergic people, however, especially if they have had anaphylactic reactions, skin tests should not be done because they could provoke another dangerous reaction. Skin tests also cannot be done in patients with extensive eczema.