Everyone, at some point in their life, has suffered the uncomfortable effects of eating something they should not have. It is often easy to assume you are allergic to a food item if its triggers symptoms like digestive problems, hives or swollen airways. However, it is also possible that you might, in fact, be intolerant or sensitive to the particular food, or have, what is known as celiac disease. Here is what each of these conditions means and how they affect you:
Food Allergy: If you ever experience trouble breathing, hives, dizziness, or swollen throat, chances are you are allergic to something you ate. This is our immune system’s reaction that occurs soon after we eat a certain food item. For some, it might be just uncomfortable but for others, it can lead to a life-threatening condition called Anaphylaxis.
While it is common to confuse a food allergy with intolerance, remember the symptoms of an allergy develop within a few minutes to two hours after consuming whatever you are allergic to.
Food Intolerance: This does not involve your immune system and can’t cause a life-threatening condition. Food intolerance manifests itself in symptoms like bloating, stomachache, diarrhoea, skin rashes, and itching. However, unlike allergies, you must consume a substantial amount of trigger food for the intolerance to set in, and the symptoms happen gradually and often take hours to show themselves.
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Food Sensitivity: It is possibly an IgG-mediated immune response to certain foods. Just like food intolerance, this is not a life-threatening condition. Symptoms can range from migraines, gastrointestinal distress, bloating, and stomachache. They can take up to a few days to show up after the consumption of a trigger food. Due to the late onset of symptoms, many people with food sensitivity often go a lifetime without knowing what is triggering it.
Celiac Disease: Sometimes called gluten-sensitive enteropathy, this is another immune system reaction in your small intestine but specifically to consuming gluten. If this continues, over time, it can damage the small intestine lining and prevent it from absorbing some of the nutrients from food. Its symptoms vary from gastrointestinal distress, and bloating, to fatigue, weight loss, and anemia. While there is no cure for this condition, following a gluten-free diet can help heal the intestine and prevent the symptoms.
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