Food intolerance and allergy are not the same thing.
Since the symptoms of food intolerance can occasionally mimic those of food allergy, food allergy and food intolerance are frequently confused. However, food intolerance does not affect immunity and does not result in life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). Additionally, food intolerance is not detected by allergy testing, and non-evidence-based allergy tests are discouraged by the Australiasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA).
Understanding food intolerance can be challenging. Food ingredients can occasionally exacerbate the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches, rashes (like hives), or irritable bowel syndrome-related stomach distress.
Your nose starts to run when you bite into some spicy Indian food or hot salsa. You get gas from beans, and you get a headache after drinking wine. When you consume cheese or milk, you should anticipate diarrhea if you are lactose intolerant.
Foods like these occasionally cause reactions in most people. However, they’re typically intolerances or sensitivities to certain foods. Your immune system isn’t the cause of them.
A food allergy is not the same. Your body interprets foods that are safe to eat as potentially harmful. Your immune system reacts to anything you eat that you are allergic to in order to keep you safe. It’s possible to experience a minor skin rash, itchy eyes, or a more severe reaction that leaves you struggling to breathe.
Although food allergies can be dangerous, there are things you can do to manage them. Avoiding the foods that trigger you is one of the best things you can do.
Your immune system protects your body from illnesses and other threats to your well-being. When your immune system mistakenly perceives a food or ingredient as dangerous and mounts a defense mechanism, it can lead to a food allergy reaction.
Allergies do tend to run in families, but it is impossible to know if a child will inherit a food allergy from a parent or if siblings will experience the same symptoms. There is evidence from some studies that if the elder child has a peanut allergy then there are chances that younger child too may have it.
A food allergy can cause mild to severe symptoms. Not every reaction will be the same, even if the first one causes few issues. For example, a food that occasionally causes mild symptoms may later cause more severe symptoms.
Anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal whole-body allergic reaction that can impair breathing, cause a sharp drop in blood pressure, and alter heart rate, is the most severe allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis may occur minutes after eating the trigger food. It can be lethal, so an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) must be administered right away.
Types of allergies to food
There are two basic categories of true food allergies:
- IgE, or immunoglobulin E, mediated. This kind of food allergy occurs when the immune system in your body produces IgE antibodies that react to specific foods. Your immune system uses antibodies, a type of blood protein, to identify and combat infections. After consuming the food allergen, an IgE-mediated allergic reaction typically happens a few hours later and can cause mild to severe symptoms, including anaphylaxis.
- Non-mediated by IgE. Your immune system does not produce IgE antibodies when you have a non-IgE food allergy, but it is still working to mount a defense against the perceived threat. Up to three days after consuming the food allergen, a non-IgE mediated allergic reaction can cause skin, digestive, or a combination of those symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Following are a few of the most common allergies found in people-
Babies and young children are most commonly affected by cow’s milk allergies. Affecting 2-3% of infants and toddlers, it’s one of the most prevalent allergies in children (10Trusted Source).
It is considerably less common in adults because, by the time they are three years old, 90% of children will have outgrown the condition.
Both IgE and non-IgE cow milk allergies can happen, but IgE allergies are more prevalent and may even be more dangerous.
After consuming cow’s milk, children or adults with an IgE allergy typically experience a reaction five to thirty minutes later. They suffer from symptoms like hives, rashes, swelling, vomiting, and, in extreme circumstances, anaphylaxis.
An egg allergy in childhood is common, just like many other food allergies. Egg allergies are primarily caused by three proteins ovalbumin and ovotransferrin.
While some people can eat cooked or baked eggs without experiencing an allergic reaction, others cannot. If a person has an allergy to the bird that laid the egg or its feathers, they may also experience an allergic reaction to eggs. It’s known as “bird-egg syndrome.”Reliable Source.
An egg allergy may manifest as coughing, wheezing, indigestion, vomiting, or stomach pain. Eating eggs or food products containing eggs is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction to eggs.
Most tree nut allergies are lifelong. Tree nut allergies are among the most common food-induced causes of anaphylaxis, along with shellfish and peanut allergies. The following nuts are the most likely to cause allergic reactions:
- Latin Nuts
People who are allergic to one kind of nut may occasionally react to other nuts as well.
Tree nut allergies can cause a wide range of reactions in their victims. Hives, vomiting, low blood pressure, and trouble swallowing are some of the symptoms. Itching in the mouth, throat, skin, eyes, or other body parts can also affect some people. Tree nut allergies should prevent their consumption, as well as any foods that might contain them.
One of the most frequent causes of food allergies is peanuts. Individuals with peanut allergies typically have lifelong allergies. However, new studies indicate that up to 20% of individuals with allergies may outgrow their sensitivity. An allergic reaction to peanuts can be quite severe, and in sensitive individuals, traces of the peanut can trigger a reaction.
A tiny percentage of individuals who have allergies to peanuts may also have reactions to other legumes, like green peas.
Although they are not the same as tree nuts, peanut allergies can also cause allergies to some tree nuts.
While cooking certain allergy-causing foods can remove the proteins that cause reactions, research indicates that roasting, boiling, or frying peanuts is probably not one of those times.
According to experts, peanut oil is safe for those who have allergies to peanuts because the proteins that trigger allergic reactions are eliminated during production. However, small amounts of peanut allergens may be present in cold-pressed or unrefined peanut oil, which may trigger a reaction in those who are sensitive.
Many of the symptoms that people allergic to other foods experience are also experienced by those allergic to peanuts. These symptoms include heart palpitations, dizziness, hives, swelling, and confusion.
A common allergy in children is soybean allergy. While adult soybean allergies are rare, most soybean allergies affect children under the age of three.
An allergy to soybeans can cause rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, and cramping in the stomach. Soybeans can sporadically result in anaphylaxis.
Steer clear of soybeans if you want to prevent a reaction. Certain individuals are able to consume highly refined soybean oil or foods that include soy lecithin, which is a byproduct of processing soybeans. Those who are allergic should see a doctor to see if this is safe for them.
Another common food allergy in children is wheat allergy. By the time they are twelve, about 65% of kids will outgrow it.
Gliadin, a protein present in gluten, is one of the primary allergens in wheat. Those who have a wheat allergy may therefore need to follow a gluten-free diet.
Although it is uncommon, anaphylaxis from a wheat allergy can occur in some people. Rashes, digestive issues, and asthmatic symptoms are also indicators of a wheat allergy.
Those who think they might be allergic to wheat should consult their doctor before making any dietary changes, as is the case with all food allergies. Wheat allergy is not the same as celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition.
Sesame allergies can be very serious, particularly in young children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that only 20–30% of children who are allergic to this allergen will outgrow it by mature.
This allergy was not as well recognized in the past. However, the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act, passed by the US government in April 2021, officially recognized sesame as the ninth major food allergen in the nation. Because of this law, food producers who use sesame as an ingredient must now label it as a possible allergen.
An allergy to sesame can manifest a variety of symptoms, just like other food allergies. These might include vomiting, hives, or rashes. In extreme situations, anaphylaxis and throat swelling may also result.
It can be challenging to accurately diagnose a sesame allergy because these symptoms can commonly coexist with those of other food allergies. However, a 2019 study published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology found that 17% of the 88 children with verified food allergies also had a sesame allergy. Sesame allergies affect an estimated 1.1 million Americans, according to estimates.
Up to 7% of adults may be affected by fish allergies, which are common.
Like other allergies, fish allergies typically appear in childhood. However, a fish allergy can manifest itself later in life with relative frequency.
Similar to an allergy to shellfish, a fish allergy can result in a life-threatening allergic reaction. The most common symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting, but anaphylaxis can also happen in rare instances.
This implies that people who are allergic to fish are typically provided with a carry-around epinephrine auto-injector in case they happen to eat fish.
Various kinds of dietary allergies
Apart from these severe food allergies, nearly every food can cause an allergy in a person. Many people suffer from a variety of other allergies, such as those to cereals other than wheat, such as oats. Meat, fruit and vegetables, coconut, and spices like cinnamon are among the other foods that can trigger allergies.
How to Take a Test?
Every time the trigger food is consumed, a food allergy will typically result in some kind of reaction. Individual differences in symptoms mean that you might not always feel the same way during a reaction. The skin, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, and cardiovascular system can all be impacted by allergic reactions to food. All patients with food allergies should be carefully counseled about the risk of anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction that is treated with epinephrine (adrenaline) since it is impossible to predict how severe the next reaction might be.
Food allergies can develop at any age, but they typically first manifest in early childhood. See an allergist if you think you may have a food allergy. They will ask about your family and medical history, determine which tests to order (if any) and use this information to determine whether a food allergy is present.
Allergists enquire extensively about your symptoms and medical history in order to diagnose you. Be ready to respond to inquiries regarding:
- How much and what do you consume?
- How much time does it take for the symptoms to appear?
- What signs you had and how long they persisted?
Following a review of your medical history, your allergist may recommend blood or skin tests to determine if your body has food-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies:
An allergist may sometimes suggest an oral food challenge, which is thought to be the most precise method of diagnosing a food allergy. A few hours of observation are spent monitoring the patient to determine whether a reaction happens after they are given progressively larger doses of the suspected trigger food over the course of an oral food challenge, which is carried out under close medical supervision. When the patient’s history is unclear or the results of the skin or blood tests are not conclusive, this test can be useful. It can also be used to assess whether an allergy has outgrown its host.
An oral food challenge should only be carried out by skilled allergists in a doctor’s office or at a food challenge center, with emergency medication and equipment on hand, due to the possibility of a severe reaction.
Control and Intervention
The main strategy for managing a food allergy is to abstain from eating the offending food. Examine food product ingredient labels carefully to see if there are any alternate names for the ingredients you should stay away from.
It’s not always easy to avoid allergens. Although labeling has made this process somewhat simpler, there are some foods that are so widely available that avoiding them is difficult. Perhaps a nutritionist or dietitian can assist. These nutritionists will guarantee that you are getting all the nutrients you require even if you cut out specific foods from your diet. They will also provide advice on how to avoid the foods that aggravate your allergies. For patients with particular allergies, specialized cookbooks, and online or in-person support groups can also be helpful sources of information.
A common question among those who have food allergies is whether they will always have them. There’s no conclusive response. While allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish typically last a lifetime, allergies to milk, eggs, wheat, and soy may gradually go away.