Velocity Care helps you understand the differences between a food allergy and a food intolerance
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy usually occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly identifies a food as a harmful substance and begins to attack it. Food allergies usually come on quite quickly after eating a certain food and can range from mild to severe. They can include symptoms such as hives, rashes, difficulty breathing or swelling of the mouth or tongue, and a person can experience these symptoms after exposure to even the smallest amount of the allergy-causing food.
Any food could cause an allergic reaction, but some of the most common allergy-causing foods are:
- Tree nuts.
- Seafood and shellfish.
How do I treat a food allergy?
Treating a food allergy quickly is very important. If the person is experiencing any swelling around the throat or mouth or is having any difficulty breathing, getting them to an urgent care clinic as quickly as possible is imperative. If the individual has an epinephrine or adrenaline injection device, use it and proceed to a doctor immediately. If the allergy is less severe, such as a mild skin rash or hives, use an over-the-counter antihistamine for quick relief of the symptoms. A visit to the doctor is still important, and the person should be tested to determine the cause of the allergy.
When a food allergy is present, it is best to do everything possible to avoid exposure to the allergy-causing substance.
What is a food intolerance?
An intolerance to a food will usually not be as severe as a food allergy and will not be life threatening. A person will usually experience a food intolerance after exposure to a large amount of a specific food or after eating it quite frequently. Some common symptoms are headaches, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, gas or stomach cramps. An intolerance could also be due to a lack of certain enzymes needed to digest the food, sensitivity to certain additives in a food or illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease. Most people who experience a food intolerance will experience some type of stomach upset or gastrointestinal problem.
Some foods that people are commonly intolerant of are:
- Lactose (found in dairy products).
How do I treat a food intolerance?
Depending on the type of food that is causing the intolerance, you can take certain enzymes to aid in digestion. Lactose enzymes will help to digest dairy products or you can consume lactose-free products instead. If gas or heartburn is the primary symptom, over-the-counter antacids can provide relief. Also, consuming the foods that are causing the intolerance less frequently or in smaller quantities should help to reduce the symptoms. Allergy testing is also a great idea to determine exactly what foods you are sensitive to.
If you suspect that you are suffering from a food allergy or if you have questions about a food intolerance, Velocity Care’s team of doctors are here to help. Visit www.velocitycare.com/locations today to find the urgent care clinic closest to you.
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