Some people have adverse reactions to certain foods, like nuts and dairy. You might think that you have a food allergy. However, it might actually be food intolerance. Food allergies can be life-threatening, so knowing the difference could help save your life.
Read on to find out how to know if you have a food allergy or food intolerance:
Food intolerance refers to the inability to digest certain foods. According to research, 15-20% of the population suffers from it. This condition is more common for people with digestive system disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It is easy to confuse food intolerance with a food allergy. The main difference is that food intolerance upsets the digestive system, which isn’t the case with allergies.
Stomach discomfort is one of the leading symptoms of food intolerance. In addition to that, here are signs that you may be intolerant to certain foods:
These symptoms could manifest hours after ingesting food and persist for several days. The amount of food consumed determines the severity of symptoms.
Types of Food Intolerance
The causes of food intolerance vary. It may develop due to a lack of digestive enzymes or if you experience ultra-sensitivity to certain food chemicals. Below are some of the most common types of food intolerance:
- Lactose intolerance
- Fructose intolerance
- Gluten intolerance
- Salicylate intolerance
Treatment for Food Intolerance
Since food intolerance only causes mild physical reactions, people experiencing this condition usually do not require urgent treatment. There is currently no cure for food intolerance, but you can manage it with a care plan.
Doctors advise patients with food intolerance to keep a food diary to find out which foods trigger their symptoms. Once you know what foods you have an intolerance for, you should actively avoid them.
Unlike food intolerance, which is a problem with the digestive system, a food allergy triggers the immune system. Symptoms can develop after a person eats certain types of food regardless of the quantity. In many cases, food allergies can be life-threatening.
The severity of allergic reactions differs, ranging from mild discomfort to fatal. Here are some of the most common signs that a person is having an allergic reaction after consumption of a certain food:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of certain parts of the body
- Hives, itching, or eczema
- Inability to breath
Treatment for Food Allergies
Some people outgrow food allergies with time. However, food allergies have no cure as of the moment. Fortunately, emerging treatments such as oral immunotherapy can help desensitize a person’s immune system to an allergen.
To control flare-ups, your doctor may recommend medications, such as:
In severe cases, your allergies could trigger anaphylaxis. This reaction happens when your body goes into shock. During anaphylaxis, your blood pressure will plunge, and your airways will narrow. It is a medical emergency that may result in death or a coma if left untreated.
Below is the list of life-threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis that you should watch out for:
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty breathing due to swollen throat
- Constricted airways
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or even loss of consciousness
When you suspect that a person is undergoing anaphylaxis due to a food allergy, call for emergency treatment immediately.
Allergists in Will County & DuPage County, IL
Being aware of your allergies to certain foods is the first step in prevention and treatment. It’s crucial to determine if your adverse reactions are due to food allergies or food intolerance. With the help of a specialist, you can know the difference without putting your life at risk.
Get an accurate diagnosis at Oak Brook Allergists. Our board-certified allergy and immunology specialists can accurately determine if you have an allergy and craft a treatment plan. We can get you the care you need if you experience an allergic reaction.
Let us know you’re coming by calling us at (630) 574-0460 or using our online appointment request form. We have four locations throughout DuPage and Will counties to serve you. Don’t delay your treatment – let us give you the care you deserve!