Food Allergy Versus Food Intolerance

Among the allergies rampant in American lives today, food allergy is one of the top three. However, some people misdiagnose food allergy as food intolerance. There are certain similarities but one must be careful in administering medicines to a person with an allergy.

The wrong medicine for the wrong condition can increase the allergic symptom resulting in anaphylaxis and even death. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction where all the symptoms swiftly attack the entire body all at the same time.

Symptoms Of Food Allergy

Food allergy is an allergic reaction to certain types of food. The most common food allergens are: cow's milk, wheat, peanuts and other tree nuts, eggs, fish, soybeans, shellfish, meat and certain types of drugs. The allergic reaction can vary depending on the type of allergen but they have the same number of symptoms:

- Rashes or hives begins to appear on the skin. In extreme cases, the swelling and hives can spread to the entire body. - Swelling of the certain areas near the mouth. - Swelling of the ear - Redness and itchiness of the eyes. - Runny nose - Vomiting and diarrhea - Difficulty in breathing and wheezing, sometime signs of asthma

Food intolerance has much of the same symptoms except the runny nose and watery eyes. Most often, food intolerance results in diarrhea and swelling of certain areas of the body.

Aside for the similarities in symptoms, a food allergy is more severe than food intolerance. Someone with food intolerance can eat small portions of the food he is allergic to. They can still enjoy the food, though in small quantities. But to a person with food allergy, that small portion can immediately trigger an allergic reaction. And if not treated at once, the patients can go into anaphylaxis.

What makes a food allergy more life threatening is because of the immediate threat to the person. Someone with food allergy can have an anaphylactic shock and start to experience the swelling of the throat muscles. This can block the air passage of the person and could result to death.

Another real danger is the sharp drop in the blood pressure of the patient. In this case, the person with food allergy may experience mental confusion and dizziness.

Food Allergy Treatment

A food allergy can be treated as soon as the symptom occurs. For rashes, there are skin creams available to ease the swelling and itchiness. The antihistamines will give relief to symptoms of runny nose, watery eyes and swelling. These medicines can be bought right in the local drugstores and does not require a prescription.

For those who experience the severe food allergy reactions, a dose of epinephrine (adrenaline), either self- injected or given by the doctor can immediately reverse the symptoms. As of now, a shot of epinephrine is the most effective treatment for food allergy and other types of allergies.

Preventing Food Allergy

Although food allergies cannot be prevented, the best way to defeat it is by staying away from the food a person is allergic to. Taking a risk will only cost you more pain in the future. So it is best to see the doctor to get a proper diagnosis and guidelines on what to eat and what not to eat.

Making the right diagnosis on food allergy versus food intolerance can be tricky. It all depends on how severe the allergic reactions are and the number of symptoms that show up on the person when exposed to the food allergen.

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About The Author, Charlene J. Nuble