Having a physical reaction to certain foods is more common than you may think – but how do we know if the reaction is caused by a food allergy or food intolerance? And what’s the difference?
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy occurs when a person’s immune system reacts in an unusual way to specific foods. These allergic reactions can be quite mild – but they can cause serious complications.
Common symptoms of food allergies include:
- an itching sensation around the mouth, throat and ears
- a raised itchy rash on the body (also known as hives)
- swelling on the face
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerance is the term used to describe someone having difficulty digesting food and having an unpleasant reaction to them.
The common symptoms of food intolerance include:
- bloating, tummy pain, wind and diarrhoea
- skin rashes and itching
It can be difficult to determine if you have a food intolerance as the symptoms associated with it are also general symptoms for other conditions.
What causes food allergies?
A food allergy is caused by your body seeing harmless proteins in food as a potential threat. It then releases a number of chemicals to protect itself, which triggers an allergic reaction.
The immune system protects the body from the perceived threat by producing a specialist protein, called an antibody. These antibodies then signal to your immune system that it should release chemicals to kill the perceived threat and prevent infection.
In the most common types of food allergies, an antibody known as Immunoglobin (IgE) targets a certain protein found in food as it sees it as a threat. IgE causes several chemicals to be released into the body, including histamine.
Testing for food allergies
It is important to speak to your doctor if you think you have a food allergy or food intolerance, as any decisions about your health should be made by a medical professional.
If you are worried that you might be allergic to something, you can take the Test2Go Allergy Test.
Our Allergy Test can show you if you have higher than normal levels of IgE in your blood, in the comfort of your own home.
The advantage of this allergy test is that it can be taken in the privacy of your own home, ensuring the results are confidential. It will also highlight to you if you need to take any further steps to manage your personal health.
It must be noted that not everyone with allergies has higher than normal IgE levels. So, always consult your doctor if you are worried, as only medical professionals should make decisions regarding your health.
We also offer another test that may help to narrow down what foods you are allergic to, and that is the Gluten Sensitivity test.
The Gluten Sensitivity test detects IgA anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA) which are proven biomarkers for coeliac disease.
NB. It is important to note that our tests are not a substitute for seeing a doctor, particularly if you have symptoms. You should not make a diagnosis or start any treatment without a consultation with a doctor or a suitably trained health professional.