It’s estimated that roughly 15 million people in the United States have diagnosed food allergies that adversely affect the immune system. In all likelihood, there is probably a lot more undiagnosed cases. Therefore, it is important to understand how a food allergy differs from food sensitivity or food intolerance in case you may have been wondering if you might be one of those with a food allergy?
The Difference Between a Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity
A food allergy works by triggering an immediate response in how the immunoglobin E (lgE) antibodies attack the organs. A response could be so severe that it is life-threatening anaphylaxis that can cause death from how the immune system clashes with the proteins in that particular offending food. For the most part, a food allergy can range from hives, itching, swelling, vomiting, wheezing to feeling that your throat is closing up from anaphylactic shock that could kill you in less than 15 minutes without an injection of epinephrine (also called adrenaline) soon after the symptoms start.
On the other hand, food intolerance, also known as non-IgE mediated food hypersensitivity or non-allergic food hypersensitivity, is centered around the digestive track for the most part. Unlike a food allergy, food intolerance does not involve the release of histamine from the immune system. Thus, symptoms are milder and can be delayed for up to six days later. A less common reaction to food sensitivity can result in migraine headaches or coughing, but usually food intolerance is restricted more to gut problems such as a stomachache, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, gas to bloating.
Food Sensitivity Could Be Connected to Quite a Few Chronic Diseases
The interesting thing about food sensitivity is that other diseases may be related such as conditions like arthritis, gastroesophageal reflux, sinus congestion, fibromyalgia to irritable bowel syndrome. The problem is food sensitivity is difficult to diagnose, but it can be done. The test you need to ask for is an IgG blood test.
An IgG test is a specific blood test that checks for 96 antibodies in various foods. The reason this is so something that you may want to think about is because long-term inflammation in the digestive track from food sensitivity can cause leaky gut syndrome over time. Leaky gut syndrome is where some of the undigested food escapes through the deteriorating intestinal walls into your bloodstream.
Common Sources of Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity
The most common food allergy offenders are wheat, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, and soy. However, there are about 170 other foods that also can cause similar problems.
If you have a true food allergy, avoid eating that particular food. Wearing a medic alert bracelet or necklace with specifics about your allergy and physician contact is something to consider. Antihistamines also can help a less severe attack from a food allergy.
Anyone suspecting food sensitivity or food intolerance should try a food elimination diet to pinpoint the source of your symptoms. Take this advice as good starting point in your quest to find relief. Needless to say, if you continue suffering please do visit your doctor for a thorough examination. After all, the information that I shared here isn’t meant to diagnose or replace medical expertise, it is only meant to inform.
We are lucky and don’t suffer from food allergies. I know a lot of people increasingly have this problem though.
You know, I have had a lot of unexplained gut pain and i’m wondering if it has to do with allergies. I’m going to track what I eat and when this pain happens.
I hope this helps because some foods can be thought of as either medicine or poison depending on how your own body treats it. Keep in mind that a food sensitivity doesn’t have to show up immediately. It can happen up to six days later.
I think I have pretty much an ‘iron gut’ although I do react to foods with monosodium glutamate for some reason. It just makes me feel odd, I do not think it is an allergy nor anything serious. My husband on the other hand reacts to many things. I never associated it with sinus but for him that would make good sense.
I think many people use allergy and sensitivity interchangeably. I’m glad you distinguished the two. Several of my nephews are allergic to shellfish while a friend has a dairy sensitivity.