Physical reactions to certain foods are common, however most are caused by a food intolerance rather than a food allergy. A food intolerance can cause similar signs and symptoms as a food allergy, so when it comes to self-diagnosis, it can be easy to confuse the two.
Food allergies cause an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body, causing a range of various symptoms. In some cases, an allergic reaction to a particular food can be severe or life-threatening. In contract with this, food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and often limited to digestive problems.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is when the body sees a certain type of good as harmful, causing the immune system to form antibodies in order to fight it off. The extra build-up of these antibodies creates a release of histamines and other chemicals, resulting in an allergic reaction.
These symptoms can be rapid, although in severe cases, may require medical attention. Symptoms include rashes, gut problems, breathing issues etc.
What is intolerance?
With intolerances, the body does not create antibodies in the same way an allergy does. One type of intolerance is when the body reacts with certain chemicals in foods, such as salicylates in caffeine or histamines in chocolate or cheese. Other intolerances are due to the body lacking the required enzymes in order to break down foods.
Absence of an enzyme needed to fully digest a particular food – A common example of this cause is Lactose intolerance.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - This chronic condition can cause cramping, diarrhoea and constipation.
Recurring stress or psychological factors – The reason why some individuals can feel sick at the mere thought of a particular food is still not understood, however it is common ground for many food intolerance issues.
Food poisoning – Toxins such as bacteria in spoiled food can cause severe digestive symptoms.
Sensitivity to food additives – Sulphites used to preserve dried fruit, wine and canned goods can trigger asthma attacks in sensitive people.
Coeliac disease – Coeliac disease offers features of a food allergy due to its involvement with the immune system. Symptoms are mostly gastrointestinal, and this chronic digestive condition is often triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains.
Here at London Gastroenterology Centre, we’re here to provide you with quality care, advice and treatment to suit your individual needs. Our team of specialists are experts in their field, and offer a range of gastrointestinal disease treatments, including acid reflux and colonoscopy in London. So, if think you may suffer from a food intolerance or allergy, please do not hesitate to contact our professional team of specialists on 020 7183 7965 today!