Many people suffer a reaction after eating certain foods. The unpleasant symptoms may indicate a food allergy, but more often times occur because of a condition known as food intolerance. Though sometimes creating similar symptoms, allergies are typically more serious. The food intolerance specialists at AACOS help patients determine the specific type of condition and provide treatment.
Intolerance means that a particular food irritates the gastrointestinal tract when consumed. The irritation inhibits proper digestion. During an intolerant episode, individuals often experience abdominal bloating, gas and cramping along with heartburn. Some also develop headaches or become irritable.
Intolerance’s usually occur in the following pattern:
- Develops gradually
- Appears after consuming a large quantity of the food
- Occurs more severely if eating the food often
- Does not create a life-threatening situation
Food allergies are different than food intolerances. Food allergies occur when the immune system perceives the food as a potential threat and triggers a systemic reaction because of allergic antibodies. Symptoms will often spread throughout the body. Individuals often initially feel itchy and develop a rash or hives. Victims might also begin having difficulty breathing, swallowing and experience chest pain. Blood pressure drops drastically, creating an emergency situation. Sometimes, there may be digestive symptoms in addition to these symptoms.
An Allergic Reaction:
- Occurs suddenly
- Begins after consuming a small amount of the trigger food
- Occurs each time a person eats the food
- May progress into a life-threatening situation Symptoms for either condition may include abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
Foods That Trigger Intolerance Or Allergies
Dairy products remain the most common food that cause intolerance. Known as lactose intolerance, the condition happens when the sugar in milk or other diary products irritates the gastric system. Some people also have an insensitivity to foods containing additives, preservatives or sulfites. Sulfites might also trigger allergic reactions.
The most common foods associated with food allergies include:
- Fish and shellfish
- Peanuts and tree nuts
Treatment Of Food Allergies And Intolerance
Determining the extent and severity of the condition requires consulting with food allergy specialists at Asthma and Allergy Associates. Until undergoing allergy tests under controlled conditions, physicians generally advise against eating foods suspected of causing symptoms. If needed, a physician at AACOS may prescribe an allergy kit, which contains an emergency epinephrine shot in the event that a patient unintentionally comes in contact with a trigger food. Patients must learn which foods cause symptoms, take the time to determine ingredients in dishes prepared outside of the home and carefully start reading labels.
For additional information or to make an appointment with one of our physicians or our Registered Nutritionist/Dietitian call the main office at 719-473-0872 or 800-533-3900