Allergy Or Intolerance? Decoding Your Food Woes

Scientific researchers estimate that nearly 15 million Americans suffer from a food allergy. In fact, every 3 minutes someone is admitted to a hospital emergency room due to an allergic reaction to food. While these severe allergies are generally easy to identify, many people mistake food intolerance for food allergies.

Here are some signs you can use to decode whether or not you are allergic, or merely intolerant, to certain foods in the future.

1. The number of foods causing your problems.

One of the easiest ways to determine if you are plagued by food allergies or mere food intolerance is to determine the number of foods that cause you problems. People with serious type one food allergies are rarely allergic to more than one or two foods. If you find that several food products are causing you discomfort, you are likely a victim of food intolerance and not a food allergy.

Reducing your exposure to the foods that are at the root of your problem can be beneficial in helping you resolve intolerance issues, while a complete avoidance of the one or two foods you might be allergic to is required for your safety.

2. The types of foods causing your problems.

As you begin to identify the foods associated with your discomfort, it will become easier for you to identify whether or not you have a food allergy or a food intolerance. People generally have an allergic reaction to peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish. If you find that your discomfort stems from the ingestion of dairy products, strawberries, or citrus fruits, then your problem is most likely caused by an intolerance to these foods.

By choosing to abstain from foods that cause both allergic reactions and discomfort due to intolerance, you can eliminate any potentially negative side effects caused by the foods you eat.

3. The way your body reacts to ingesting the food.

One of the easiest ways to determine whether you have a food allergy or a food intolerance is to gauge the way your body reacts to the foods you consume. Allergic reactions involve the skin, gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system.

You may experience itching, shortness of breath, a weak pulse, or stomach cramps when having an allergic reaction to foods. A food intolerance, while still uncomfortable, usually results in less severe physical effects like headache or bloating.

Understanding the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance will not only allow you to eat with confidence, it could help save your life by letting you know when you need to seek medical attention for an adverse reaction to food products.