Are food allergies the same as food intolerances?

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Many people use the terms “food intolerance” and “food allergy” interchangeably. However, the two words are not identical. The symptoms of the two problems can be virtually the same, which can lead to confusion about which one you’re afflicted with. A key difference is that allergies affect the immune system, while an intolerance does not.

What are food allergies?
Food allergies affect children and adults. In the US, about 5-6% of children and 3-4% of adults are affected by a food allergy.

Allergies tend to affect people differently depending on their age. In children, the most common allergies are allergies to milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts, and soy. In adults, fish, tree nuts, shellfish, and peanut allergies are the most common. Sometimes children will outgrow their allergies, which is more common in children than adults.

Food allergies affect the immune system, and can present with a wide range of symptoms. An allergic reaction to a food can involve the gastrointestinal (GI) system or result in a life-threatening reaction called an anaphylactic shock. When the body encounters a substance that it considers “dangerous,” the immune system’s initial response is to release antibodies called immunoglobin E. Those antibodies are unique to that allergen. The immune system will create a more rapid and severe response to any further exposure it has to the allergen if left untreated, which is why it’s a good idea to see an allergy doctor in Las Vegas. Having an accurate diagnosis is essential, so if you’re wondering “Where can I find the best allergists near me for a diagnosis?” give us a call or visit us online!

Food Allergy Symptoms

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Food allergy symptoms can be extensive and include the following reactions:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Hives
  • Canker sores
  • Cramps
  • Oral inflammation

Sometimes, food allergies produce more extreme reactions, including respiratory problems and a full-body reaction called an anaphylactic shock. Shock symptoms are the most concerning, as they can indicate that the allergy sufferer is experiencing a severe reaction. Symptoms include swelling in the tongue and throat, breathing problems, wheezing, vomiting, and fainting.

Other factors can be used to distinguish between a food allergy and food intolerance, too. With a food allergy, you only need to be exposed to a tiny amount of the offending substance to have a reaction. With food intolerances, you’ll generally need to consume a regular portion to have ill effects. The reaction time for a food allergy is usually faster than the reaction time for food intolerance. If you have a food allergy, you will typically react instantly or within the first two hours. If you have a food intolerance, your reaction time may kick in anytime from within 30 minutes of ingesting the perceived harmful substance to 48 hours after your initial exposure.

What is food intolerance?
It is estimated that food intolerances impact roughly 20% of the U.S. population. A food intolerance is quite different from a true food allergy. One of the key distinctions between the two is that a food intolerance does not affect the immune system, but a food allergy does. A food intolerance is an adverse reaction that you have to a particular food. While food allergy symptoms can affect all parts of your body, food intolerance symptoms typically originate in the gastrointestinal (GI) system. If you have a food intolerance, symptoms may not kick in until 30 minutes after consuming the offending food. However, symptoms may not appear for two days!

Food Intolerance Symptoms

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Food intolerance can produce a range of symptoms, including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

Although many sources can cause food intolerance, gluten or lactose intolerances are the most common.

What is lactose intolerance?
Worldwide, up to 70% of the population cannot tolerate dairy products as adults without having an adverse reaction. An upset stomach is the most common complaint of lactose intolerance, but people can also experience other symptoms.

What is lactase?
Lactase is an enzyme, which is essential for helping the body digest the sugars in milk or lactose. While people generally produce lactase on their own, only some produce enough of this essential substance for the digestion of milk and milk products. If lactose is undigested, it tends to linger in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, where it can cause symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and flatulence. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, be sure to contact an allergy doctor in Las Vegas right away for a diagnosis and effective treatment.

Gluten Intolerance
Gluten intolerance is a problem that can affect people with celiac disease. If you have a gluten intolerance, you will likely have to adhere to a gluten-free diet in order to prevent symptoms such as cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. People who have celiac disease typically avoid gluten products. Even people who do not have celiac disease find that they have fewer GI symptoms when they eliminate gluten from their diets. Gluten-free foods are increasing in popularity, which is also good because scientists have determined that wheat allergies and non-celiac gluten intolerance are fairly common problems.

What are common food allergies?

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Some common foods cause allergies include:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Tree nuts
  • Sesame Seeds

While allergies can affect children, allergies can develop in adulthood. Therefore, it’s a good idea to visit an allergy doctor in Las Vegas to determine the root cause of your symptoms and get proper treatment.

Some food allergies, such as egg, milk, nut, and soy, are more likely to appear in childhood. Other allergies may appear later in life later in life.

How are food allergies diagnosed?
Food allergies may be diagnosed in several ways, including:

Allergy testing
Food diary
Elimination diet

An allergy test is one of the most common tests Las Vegas allergists use to determine your allergy.

What is a food sensitivity?
Food sensitivity means that you are having an immune reaction to a food, but the reaction to the food tends to be slower and less severe than if you have a true food allergy.

Ready to get allergy and asthma relief and find food allergy testing near me? Make an appointment at Tottori Allergy and Asthma by calling (702) 240-4233 or by scheduling an appointment online.

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