Often people mistake a food intolerance for a food allergy and use the terms interchangeably. Confusion is often caused by the sheer fact that many of the symptoms FEEL the same to the sufferer.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
A true food allergy is an immune system response and a food intolerance is a digestive system response. Essentially, both can cause cramping, diarrhea, headaches, gas, vomiting, irritability and other not-so-wonderful symptoms. A food allergy can also trigger more severe responses such as skin rashes, hives, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the airway to the lungs, and anaphylaxis.
Even just a small amount of food can trigger an allergic response where the body’s immune system mistakes a food protein for a harmful substance and tries to fight it with a histamine which impacts the respiratory system, digestive tract, skin, or cardiovascular system.
People who suffer only from a food intolerance don’t usually suffer from eating small amounts of the offending food.
HOW DO I FIND OUT IF I HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY OR INTOLERANCE?
To find out if you suffer from a food intolerance is to keep a food journal and note the responses you have to specific foods. You can also go on an elimination diet and slowly move questionable food back into your diet a little at a time to see what kind of reaction you have.
There are tests for food allergies, which will help you diagnose and pinpoint your allergies more accurately.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY OR INTOLERANCE?
Either way, eliminating the food causing the problem from you diet is the best way to protect yourself from a harmful reaction.