Food allergies and intolerances have a significant effect on our lifestyle. We worry about what we might ingest and read ingredients on product packaging thoroughly. We may give up some of our favorite foods. Heartbreaking, right? Knowing certain types of food allergies and intolerances can help you detect any symptoms. For anything out of the ordinary, you must consult a doctor.
Allergy vs. Intolerance
Firstly, you need to know the difference between allergies and intolerances. Allergy is our body’s immune response against a seemingly harmless factor. When the body gets exposed to allergens, it recognizes them as pathogens and starts producing antibodies. These antibodies have a severe reaction on our body in the form of swelling, itching, rashes, hives, etc.
Intolerance, also referred to as hypersensitivity, is our body’s inability to process and digest certain food items. This may cause digestive distress like diarrhea, stomach aches, nausea etc. While we experience unpleasant symptoms in both cases, allergies are generally more threatening than intolerance.
- Lactose Intolerance
An inability to digest any dairy product might indicate lactose intolerance if you experience digestive discomfort. This happens because our body lacks the minimum lactase required to break down lactose or milk sugar. The severity of symptoms usually depends on the concentration of lactose. If you suffer from abdominal pain, bloating, and excessive gas after consuming milk or dairy products, keep a food diary to track your symptoms.
- Milk Allergy
Although lactose intolerance and milk allergy are triggered by consuming dairy products, their causative agents are different. Milk allergy is the body’s immune response against milk protein casein. Patients experience wheezing, nausea, hives, and anaphylaxis (difficulty in breathing) in severe cases. If you are unsure whether you have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, you can visit nutrition websites. You may find their am i lactose intolerant quiz really helpful.
- Peanut Allergy
Peanut allergies are quite common, and the reactions are usually skin-related, like itching, swelling, hives. The reaction may occur immediately after consuming even a trace amount of peanuts, with varying degrees of severity.
We usually consume many products in our daily lives that may contain trace to large amounts of peanuts, for example, peanut oil, peanut butter, etc. Many types of sauces and dips also include peanut or peanut-related products to enhance their tastes.
People with peanut allergies must be mindful of the food they consume in their daily lives to save a trip to the emergency room.
- Wheat Allergy
The proteins found in wheat sometimes trigger the body’s immune system. The body thus produces antibodies against them, causing allergic reactions like gastrointestinal tract irritation or severe ones like anaphylaxis. Wheat allergy is often confused with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the small intestine when the patient consumes anything with gluten in it.
Before treatment begins, the patient is first tested for wheat allergy and then for celiac disease.
- Gluten Sensitivity
If tests for celiac disease and wheat allergy are negative, but the symptoms prevail, the person may have gluten sensitivity. This is a condition where the patient is unable to digest proteins in wheat and cereals efficiently. The symptoms of gluten insensitivity include abdominal pain and cramps. Gluten sensitivity is a milder form of intolerance that can be controlled by consuming food with little to no gluten.
- Egg Allergy
This is common in children who are 4-8 years of age. Egg allergy may be due to egg whites or yolks, or both. Symptoms include a stuffy and runny nose, breathing problems, and a fast heartbeat. Like all types of allergies, the severity may range from mild to severe depending on the patient’s immune response. If the allergy is mild, exposing the body to a trace amount of egg proteins over time can overcome this problem. This kind of treatment aims to make the immune system insensitive to the food’s contents. However, this practice is advised if the symptoms are mild.
People with egg allergies should avoid foods that contain eggs, including many breakfast dishes and egg-based sauces.
- Caffeine Intolerance
Everyone is familiar with caffeine, as a lot of people consume coffee almost daily. Caffeine is a bitter-tasting chemical that acts as a stimulant by causing disturbances in our sleep cycle. Intolerance to caffeine is not as common as milk or peanut allergy, but people suffering from it know it can be a real nuisance. The symptoms are primarily psychological, including but not limited to anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia.
Caffeine intolerance means saying goodbye to coffee, as in this case, it does more harm than good. Similarly, any other product that might contain caffeine is off-limits. People suffering from this satisfy their cravings by settling for artificial caffeine flavors.
Food allergies and intolerances are actual health risks and should not be taken lightly. If you experience any of these conditions, you should start making appropriate changes to your eating habits and lifestyle choices to avoid future inconvenience. In most cases, getting rid of allergies permanently is not the solution. It would help if you were wary of what you eat or drink and learned to use an epinephrine injection (EpiPen) in case of an emergency.