According to research, food allergies have increased by 500% since 2007 and they continue to increase by 5% each year. Children are particularly susceptible to developing food allergies with one in thirteen suffering from dangerous allergies and the sooner we can determine the cause of that allergy or intolerance the better. It is important to understand the difference between an intolerance and an allergy so that the best solution can be put in place.

How Does An Allergy Differ From An Intolerance?

There are numerous differences between an allergy and an intolerance, the first and most important being that an allergy is life-threatening whereas an intolerance is not.

The main difference is that an allergy impacts the immune system whereas an intolerance influences the digestive system. Consequently, for those suffering from an allergy, ingesting a minor amount of the trigger food will cause the immune system to fight against the threat, causing the victim to demonstrate symptoms associated with anaphylaxis. These symptoms will consist of hives, swelling of the face, tongue, lips, and throat as well as other parts of the body, trouble breathing, a drop in blood pressure, chest pains and or confusion. Anaphylaxis is serious and can cause a significant threat to life.

An intolerance is not as frightening or severe, but it is, nevertheless, debilitating. Symptoms are not immediate and usually occur a few hours after the food has been ingested because the digestive system is sensitive to the offending food. This can cause embarrassment as symptoms often include passing wind, becoming bloated and diarrhoea. Skin rashes can also appear and headaches, as well as stomach pain, can cause issues.

How To Treat An Allergy

If the allergy is mild to moderate antihistamines will alleviate symptoms and make you feel better. However severe allergy sufferers will need to contact a GP and would be advised to always carry an epinephrine injection.

How To Treat An Intolerance

  1. If you keep a record of your diet and the symptoms which persist, then you will soon discover the food or foods which are causing you the issues.
  2. If you have an idea of the trigger foods, then try removing them from your food intake. Then try reintroducing foods one at a time to discover the culprit or culprits.
  3. A food tolerance test is a quick, easy, and inexpensive option to consider. This may involve sending a strand of hair or having a blood test.
  4. When identified, these problem foods can be eliminated from your diet or reintroduced in small quantities.
  5. Try eating free from foods which will not contain many of the common intolerances such as milk, gluten, or egg.

You May Not Be Suffering From An Allergy Or An Intolerance

It is important to know that other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease and stress and anxiety disorders can often create similar symptoms. Therefore, if symptoms persist after you have taken all the steps above, try speaking to a health professional.