Food intolerances are not the same as food allergies, but it seems like a lot of people are taking one for the other.
A study published on January 4 in the journal JAMA Network open now found that about half of American adults who think they have a food allergy do not have one.
Instead, said the authors, people who think they are allergic could have symptoms of food intolerance, a reaction that can produce similar symptoms but is less dangerous.
Here is a simple breakdown of the differences between the two.
The intolerance is when someone has a hard time digesting a food
Food intolerance concerns the digestive system. This happens when someone has a hard time digesting a particular food, resulting in symptoms such as gas, abdominal pain and diarrhea, according to the American Academy of Asthma Allergy & Immunology (AAAAI).
"In [food intolerance] In some situations, it's not a life-threatening allergy … but it's hurting the quality of life, "said Dr. Michelle Hernandez, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Toronto. North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in an explanatory video published by the AAAI in 2018..
Food intolerance may have different causes, explained Dr. James T C Li, allergy specialist, in an article published in 2017 in the Mayo Clinic last year. In some people, this can be caused by the chronic disease of irritable bowel syndrome.
Others may be sensitive to food additives such as sulphites, which are used to preserve dried fruit and wine. This can also happen when a person does not have the enzyme needed to break down certain foods.
For example, people who are lactose intolerant are deficient in the enzyme lactase, which the body needs to break down lactose, a natural sugar found in cow's milk.
Finally, people with food intolerance might be able to eat small amounts of their trigger foods without experiencing major problems, according to AAAAI.
In food allergies, the body's immune system overreacts to a food
The AAAAI explains that when the immune system of certain foods is allergic, it reacts excessively with a specific protein of this food. Eggs, fish, seafood, peanuts, nuts, wheat, soy and cow's milk are the cause of most allergic reactions.
Thesereactions normally occur a few minutesafter exposure to food, symptoms may include hives, itching, swelling of the skin, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea and breathing problems such as sneezing or the stuffy nose.
In some cases, food allergies cause anaphylaxis, a severe reaction indicated by a feeling of tightness in the throat or chest, wheezing, difficulty breathing and tingling in the hands, feet, lips or the scalp. If it is not treated immediately with an epinephrine injection, it can be fatal.
Intolerances and allergies may have some gastrointestinal symptoms. But unlike intolerances, food allergies can be life-threatening, even if the allergic person consumes a microscopic amount of food, touches it, or even breathes it. Some food allergens can travel in the air and cause inhalation reactions.
Consult an allergist if you think you have a food allergy
AAAAI recommends consulting an allergist if you think you have a food allergy or if you avoid certain foods because you think you are allergic to it.
Doctors can diagnose food allergies by analyzing your medical history and using certain tests, such as a skin test, a blood test or a food test, in which a food is consumed in a medical environment to see if it causes a reaction.
If you think you may have food intolerance, it is best to seek help from a doctor or dietitian rather than look for unproven tests to detect food intolerance.
Some commonly available tests promise to diagnose multiple dietary sensitivities by measuring anti-immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, but many expert organizations (including the AAAAI) recommend not using them, claiming that they lack a solid scientific foundation.
"It is important to understand that this test has never been scientifically proven and that it is able to accomplish what it is supposed to do," said the website's website. 39, AAAAI in an article on IgG tests.
Dietitian Tamara Duker Freuman, a registered dietitian, also warned, in an October 2018 article, against IgG testing. Instead, she recommended keeping a detailed two-week diary of what you eat and the symptoms you feel.
"Bring this information to a recognized dietician – ideally a specialist in food allergies or gastrointestinal problems and not selling any supplements – so that he can help you identify commonalities between food or meals that may trigger a trigger, "she wrote.
"This exercise will probably provide a healthy and sensible diet test that you can undertake to identify the precise nature of your symptoms."
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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