Food Allergies

Coping with food allergies
 

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If you are certain that you have an allergy, be sure to avoid that food by checking packets and labels of anything you eat, and being extra-careful when eating out in restaurants. If an itchy reaction has already started, antihistamines may help, but discuss this with your doctor. If there is a risk of anaphylactic shock (circulatory collapse), an adrenaline injection can be carried by the sufferer, who should also tell friends how to inject them if an emergency arises.

What's the difference between an allergy and intolerance?

Intolerances - or food sensitivities - are more common than allergies and do not cause the same immune response. With an allergy, a tiny amount of the problem food can cause a reaction, whereas an intolerance usually requires a larger quantity to be consumed for a reaction to take place. Often the symptoms of food intolerance start some time after eating the food, which can make the condition difficult to diagnose.

Common symptoms include: flushing, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

What causes intolerance?



In lactose (milk) intolerance, sufferers lack the enzyme to digest the milk sugar. In some countries such as Thailand, more than two thirds of the population are lactose intolerant, although it is much less common in the UK.

Reactions to certain food additives, such as sulphites, monosodium glutamate, and caffeine.

Certain people are sensitive to the effects of a chemical called histamine, found naturally in some foods.

Detecting intolerances

If you suspect that you have a food intolerance you should visit your GP before cutting out any food groups entirely, which could result in your diet falling short of vital nutrients. Only after you have been properly diagnosed should you avoid the problem food - preferably under the consultation of a GP or nutritionist.

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