The Difference Between Food Intolerance and Food Allergy

Do you feel ill when you eat a certain food? Many people assume that if a food doesn’t agree with them that they have a food allergy, but there is actually a difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. It is important to understand the difference, as they are treated differently.

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What Is Food Intolerance?

Food intolerance is a condition in which the body’s digestive system rejects a food. A common example of this is lactose intolerance. Many people are unable to eat dairy of any kind due to lactose intolerance, and eating dairy can cause these people to have horrible digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. A food intolerance is a nuisance, but it is not life threatening or dangerous to your health. 

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What Are Hives, and How Are They Treated?

If you have ever known people who have allergies, you have probably heard of hives. Hives is a skin reaction that forms raised bumps or welts on the skin. It is usually caused by an allergy. If you ever get hives, it is important to see an allergist to discover what you are allergic to and get treatment. For severe cases of hives, an emergency room visit might be necessary.

Is It An Allergy?

When you get hives, your priority is to discover the cause of those hives so that it can be avoided in the future. Although there are a few other things that can cause hives, the most common culprit is allergies. To discover if you have an allergy, you should see an allergist. They will take a medical history, ask you questions about your lifestyle, and formulate a possible list of allergens. 

Once a list of allergens has been made, the allergist will use patch testing to determine if you have an allergy to them. The allergen is put into a patch that is placed on the skin for 24 hours to discover if there is a skin reaction. A very small amount of the allergen is used for testing, so that the reaction will not be severe.

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What to Expect from Allergy Testing

If you have recently developed an allergic reaction and aren’t sure of the cause, allergy testing can help you determine what you are allergic to so that you can get treatment. Allergy testing is also very helpful for younger children, who are more likely to have allergies arise during their development. Learn more here about allergy testing and what you can expect.

What Allergy Testing Is

During allergy testing, your body is exposed to potential allergens and then observed to see if there is an allergic reaction. The testing is done in a small, controlled area to try to prevent severe allergic reactions that might need immediate treatment. The process of allergy testing might seem scary at first because you are being exposed to what you think you are allergic to. However, the process is completely safe when you remain under the supervision of your doctor for the duration of the testing.

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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.