Symptoms of food intolerance and a food allergy can be similar, so people can be confused between the two. However, there are clear distinctions. Food intolerance is a problem with digestion, whereas a food allergy is a problem with the immune system. Food intolerance may produce discomfort, but it is not life-threatening. A food allergy can cause a severe reaction like anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. Therefore, it’s important to find out the difference between food intolerance and a food allergy.
Food intolerance occurs when the body cannot digest or breakdown a particular food. If you have a food intolerance, you may feel abdominal pain, constipation, cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Examples of foods that many are unable to tolerate are dairy, wheat, food additives, and caffeine. Typically, you should be able to tolerate small amounts of the food, but greater amounts cause symptoms. Avoidance of the food you are unable to tolerate is recommended. However, the doctor can also prescribe medication to help you break down the food you are unable to tolerate. For people who are lactose intolerant, lactose-free milk is now widely available. Also, there are lactase enzyme pills you can take to help break down lactose.
A food allergy is when the immune system overreacts to the proteins in that food. The body launches a response that produces symptoms such as swelling, hives, wheezing, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that may involve a significant drop in blood pressure and/or throat closing. This can be fatal. Not all food allergies cause severe symptoms. At times, the reaction may be mild. However, there is always the risk of the reaction turning fatal, which is why getting tested for food allergies is important.
A food allergist can test for allergies and help you reduce the severity of a reaction in case you are exposed to the allergen. Common food allergens include eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, strawberries, and more. An allergist can prescribe antihistamines and an EpiPen (a self-injection device) to manage your food allergies along with avoidance of foods that trigger a reaction.
Food Allergy Testing & Treatment in Will County & DuPage County, IL
Getting tested for food allergies can save your life. The board-certified allergists at Oak Brook Allergists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of food allergies. We treat pediatric and adult patients in our clinic. Our advanced allergy testing process can pinpoint which foods our patients are allergic to and reduce the risk of a fatal reaction from occurring. Food allergies can also change over time, and we make sure your food allergy management plan is up-to-date.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with a leading allergist in the Chicago area, call Oak Brook Allergists at (630) 574-0460 or use our convenient online appointment request form.