Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerance

With more and more individuals getting susceptible to certain properties in food, food allergy and food intolerance tests are more necessary than ever. Since the quality of modern food has changed through advancements in food production, human beings have become more reactive, which lead to chronic intolerances and allergies, some of which can have fearful results. It's good to know what to expect with each kind of test, and what you can do with the information you receive from the results.

Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerance

What is an Allergy Test?

An allergy test is known in the medical field as a puncture or scratch test, done by a certified allergologist. The test is done to check a human being for immediate allergic reactions to as many as 40 different substances. Done by making a series of pricks on the forearm with common allergens, it is used to pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites and food allergies. If the skin reacts to certain allergies, the doctor can (through a process of elimination) determine which allergens have the most effect on a patient, and then prescribe the best management methods for it, either through avoidance or medication. This is crucial, since food allergies compromise the body's immune system.

In terms of food allergy findings, an allergologist will strongly advise patients to avoid foods that will likely lead to anaphylaxis, or the "paralyzing, closing up" of the respiratory passages such as the esophagus and throat. This is why food allergies can cause death, because the vital passages get inflamed, causing anaphylactic shock.

What is a Food Intolerance Test?

A food intolerance test checks for hypersensitivity or non-allergic food hypersensitivity. Unlike food allergies (which affect the immune system), food intolerance refers to the body's inability to properly digest food, and thus, its proper use of the nutrients from a certain food. Intolerances are caused by the absence of an enzyme needed for proper digestion, and is manifested when the body's organs and systems experience irregular symptoms. This is why, for instance, a person who is lactose intolerant may experience diarrhea or stomach cramps after taking in dairy. That's because the food causes an irregular symptom in the stomach that causes it to behave abnormally. 

Other noted food intolerances are:

  • Food additive sensitivity. This is when people react to certain added compounds or properties. An example is when wine triggers asthma attacks in people who are sensitive to alcohol or the tannins in wine. 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome. Like we mentioned regarding lactose intolerance, IBS-triggering foods cause cramping or diarrhea. In some cases, foods cause constipation.
  • Celiac disease. Celiac disease is both a food allergy and food intolerance condition, because it involves the immune system as well as the digestive system. People who have celiac disease are really the only category of people who have chronic digestive problems with gluten, a protein found in wheat and certain grains. 

Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerance

Eliminate or regulate?

As a general rule of wellness, it's best to avoid foods that trigger allergies and intolerances, simply because the body was not designed to work with certain foods. Of course, there will be cases when we'll push the envolope!

If a person who is mildly allergic to, say, alcohol, wants to have a drink once in a while, then he or she must know how to manage the allergic reaction that will happen as a consequence of having the drink. It's best to get the proper information from a doctor, who can prescribe anti-histamines for cases when a patient wants to indulge in a certain food or drink. An anti-histamine manages the immune system response to the allergenic food, making the person less prone to a reaction.

If a person is intolerant to a certain food, then perhaps limited portions or small doses are the way to go. 

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