The Difference Between Food Allergy and Food Intolerance

Being limited in what you can eat can be troublesome, but it is important to understand whether you need to restrict your diet due to a food allergy or food intolerance. The two conditions are very different, although many people think that they are the same. In fact, they are caused by different problems and have different symptoms.

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What Is a Food Allergy?

Anytime your body develops an allergy to food or another substance, it is because the immune system has made a mistake. Often people will not have an allergic reaction the first time they encounter a food. It is the second or third time that they encounter the food that they have their first reaction. 

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Times in Your Life Allergies Can Develop

Many people are not aware that you can develop allergies later in life. While the vast majority of allergies are diagnosed in childhood, there are some periods of your life in which allergies can manifest. An allergy is simply the immune system deciding that the allergen is harmful to the body, even if it never recognized the threat in the past. Because of this, changes to your body’s chemistry over time can bring about new allergies, particularly seasonal allergies.

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Pregnancy

Pregnancy changes your body in a lot of ways, and those changes are reflected in how your immune system functions. It is quite normal for pregnant women to develop allergies while they are pregnant. The same things that cause an allergic reaction during pregnancy may be fine several months after the birth. However, some chemistry changes are permanent, and it is very normal to develop seasonal allergies during pregnancy that persist for years afterward.

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Allergies Can Develop: Signs and Symptoms of Hay Fever

You may have noticed some new symptoms this spring that seem like a spring cold, but doesn’t go away with rest or treatment. Many people are surprised to learn that you can develop allergies later in life. Even though you may have never had a problem with hay fever in the past, you could be suffering from this common spring allergy now. Here are some signs and symptoms of hay fever that could lead you to see an allergist.

Congestion

If you have hay fever, you will be very congested. The congestion will not be in your chest as with a cold, but it will be all nasal. You may also have a very runny nose, noticing a need to blow your nose more frequently than is normal even for a cold.

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How to Discover If You Have Seasonal Allergies or a Spring Cold

While the common cold is most often spread during the winter months, many people still get a cold during the spring. Springtime is also filled with allergens like pollen and mold, and these can cause cold-like symptoms as well. Even if you have never had allergies before, you can develop seasonal allergies over time. It is important to know whether you are coping with a cold or seasonal allergies.

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Duration of Symptoms

Even at its worst, the common cold usually only lasts about ten days. In some cases, it may last two to three weeks. If your cold symptoms last longer than this, there is a chance that they could be seasonal allergies rather than a cold. It is best to get to a doctor or allergy specialist to determine what is causing your symptoms so that you can get the appropriate treatment.

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What You Can Do About Seasonal Allergies At Home

Seasonal allergies are uncomfortable, annoying, and can get in the way of what you want to do this spring. While there are some allergy treatments available from your doctor, there are also some ways that you can cope with seasonal allergies at home.

Monitor Pollen and Mold Counts

If your seasonal allergies are related to pollen or mold, you have an advantage in planning your activities. The weather services report the pollen and mold counts for the day, with projections showing throughout the week. You can use this information to plan your activities and outings accordingly. If you can reschedule an event on a high pollen day, do so. If you can’t reschedule, you’ll know to take other precautions.

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Where to Keep Epi Pens for Children

One of the scariest things that a parent can face is a child with severe allergies. You will always worry about whether or not your child is safe from their allergy, especially if it severe enough to require the use of an epi pen. One of the best ways that you can guard against this fear is by having epi pens for your child in all of the places that he or she will be.

At School

It is important that your child have an epi pen at school, especially if it is a food allergy that they may be exposed to by other children. Most schools have policies about how epi pens and other medications are provided and stored at the school. Your child’s school nurse can give you the information and forms you need to leave an epi pen with them in their office.

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What to Expect During Allergy Testing

If you have had an allergic reaction and aren’t sure what caused it, allergy testing is a must. Even if you suspect that you know what you are allergic to, many people find out they were mistaken when allergy testing is performed. There are two main types of skin testing for allergies—skin scratch testing and intradermal skin testing. Sometimes, both of these tests are performed together.

The Difference Between the Two

Skin scratch testing and intradermal skin testing are similar in some ways, but very different in how they are performed. With skin scratch testing, the allergens are placed on the skin and then a needle is used to introduce the allergen beneath the skin with a scratch. With intradermal skin testing, the allergen is directly inserted under the skin with a needle.

What Will Happen at Allergy Testing

When you go in for allergy testing, the doctor will choose the site for the skin testing. It is usually done on the forearm, although it may also be done on the back. The area is swabbed with alcohol to clean and disinfect the skin before the allergens are introduced. About fifteen minutes after the allergen is introduced, the doctor will take careful note of the results.

Usually, skin scratch testing is tried first. If you don’t have a reaction to an allergen but the doctor suspects a false negative, they will then use the intradermal skin testing, which can be more accurate. After the skin scratch testing, the area will be cleaned again with alcohol to remove the traces of the allergens. With intradermal skin testing, you may experience allergic symptoms for a few hours after the test, but an antihistamine usually helps with the symptoms.

Don’t the Needles Hurt?

Skin scratch testing is frequently painless for the patient. It really does feel just like a scratch, something barely noticeable. Intradermal skin testing is a bit more uncomfortable, as the needle is actually piercing the skin. It usually presents just as a tiny prick, though, and doesn’t cause a significant amount of pain. Once the allergen is no longer in your system, you won’t have any discomfort at all.

If you have had allergies present themselves and you aren’t sure what you might be allergic to, allergy testing can help you cope with your allergies and avoid the allergens that cause them. Contact us today for allergy testing in Florida.

Is It a Cold or Winter Allergies? How to Tell the Difference

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As the winter wears on, you are likely to experience some cold symptoms at some point. Nearly everyone gets the sniffles and sneezing at some point during the winter. What many people do not realize is that those symptoms could be a sign of winter allergies. While the symptoms can be similar, there are some differences.

Shared Symptoms

A cold and allergies can have similar symptoms. You can have a runny nose, persistent sneezing, and congestion. If these are the only symptoms you are having, one way you can distinguish between the two is duration. A cold generally doesn’t last more than two weeks. Allergies will persist as long as the allergen is present. If your symptoms last longer than two weeks, it’s time to consider allergies as the culprit.

Cold Symptoms

There are some symptoms you may have with a cold that are not associated with allergies. Fever, chills, and a persistent cough are signs of a cold. While you can have a slight cough with allergies, most often persistent coughing is a sign of a common cold. Severe chest congestion is also a sign that a cold is the problem. Continue reading “Is It a Cold or Winter Allergies? How to Tell the Difference”

Tips For Celebrating Safely With Food Allergies

Services-Food-AllergiesWhether it’s the Fourth of July or your birthday, celebrating important occasions with food is a tradition as old as time. After all, what is Thanksgiving without the turkey, or Valentine’s Day without the chocolate?

While there’s no doubt that celebrating with food is fun, it isn’t so simply for people with food allergies. Whether you’re allergic to tree nuts, milk, gluten, or anything in between, eating at holiday parties can feel less like a celebration and more like a minefield. Use these tips to indulge safely at any occasion.

RSVP With Detail

It is any host’s goal to help her guests enjoy the perfect party experience. RSVP early and include details of your food allergy. Be polite, not demanding, and explain that you simply want to make sure you don’t put yourself in harm’s way with a delicious snack that is actually an unexpected food allergy trigger.

If you feel comfortable doing so, it’s even a good idea to extend your RSVP into a full conversation with your host. Approach the conversation as your way to educate and help the party host, not insult and judge her. She’s likely to feel appreciative that you helped her create the safest and most enjoyable environment for people with food allergies at her party. Continue reading “Tips For Celebrating Safely With Food Allergies”

What Allergies Form in the Winter?

Services-SinusitisThe spring and fall aren’t the only seasons that can cause uncomfortable allergy symptoms. Winter allergies are far more common than you may realize. Your itchy eyes, congestion, and headaches could actually be due to allergy triggers unique to the cold season. Here’s what you should know!

Fireplace Smoke

There are few things more comforting than a cold night, a hot fire, and a great book, but it turns out that your fireplace could be causing your allergy symptoms. If you have a real wood fire, the smoke could be acting like an irritant and causing your itchy eyes and sore throat. Gas fireplaces don’t create real smoke, but they can still send irritants airborne. Try keeping your fireplace off for a week or two to observe changes in your symptoms.

Forced-Air Furnaces

Turning on your heat for the first time? Be prepared for the airborne dust that your forced-air furnace will spread throughout your home. Lint, fabric fiber, bacteria, animal dander, and food material combine into one large allergy nightmare and travel with your heated air to drive you crazy. Everything from dust mites to cockroach droppings are likely to circulate through your house in the winter. Yuck!

Mold

Florida’s weather doesn’t reach the freezing cold temperatures needed to stop mold in its tracks. As a result, mold remains just as much a threat in the winter as it does during the spring and fall. Mold can develop indoors or outdoors, and though you cannot control mold in nature, you can certainly use a dehumidifier to control mold in your home.

Visit Your Allergist

Don’t assume you are stuck with your winter allergies forever. An experienced allergist like Dr. Kratz can evaluate your symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment to kick your allergy symptoms.

Call (813) 670-7062 today to schedule your first appointment at Kratz Allergy and Asthma.