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Is it really an allergy?

 
Food intolerance can easily be mistaken for a true allergy. Spot the difference.
By Hilda Geyer

Pic: Shutterstock

Article originally in Parent24

Food allergy is an immune system response.

When someone has a food allergy, their immune system reacts to a particular food as if it is a harmful substance and creates antibodies to fight it. If someone has a severe food allergy it can cause a life-threatening reaction.

Food intolerance is a digestive system response rather than an immune system response.

Something in a food irritates the digestive system or the child is unable to properly digest or breakdown, the food. Intolerance to lactose, which is found in milk and other dairy products, is the most common food intolerance.

Common food intolerance

Lactose intolerance Lactose intolerance means the digestive system can't metabolise lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

Carbohydrate intolerance Carbohydrates exist as simple sugars (sucrose, glucose, fructose, and lactose) or as glucose polymers (complex carbohydrates), such as glycogen and cellulose.

Coeliac disease This disorder is caused by an intolerance to gluten, the protein found in wheat and a few other grains. In coeliac disease, the cells lining the small intestine are damaged and prevent the normal absorption of food constituents, particularly fats.

Toxicologic reactions and food poisoning Foods may contain toxins that are naturally part of the food or that were added by mistake during manufacturing, shipping, or handling.

Pharmacological effects Some foods produce symptoms that resemble reactions to drugs. For example, caffeine found in coffee, tea, and other products may cause a rapid heartbeat, sleeplessness and other effects.

In some children, fruit and fruit juice can cause rashes. Doctors do not know what causes this reaction. They suspect, however, that physical contact with the fruit causes the irritation, rather than an internal reaction. These reactions usually disappear between the child's 3rd and 4th birthday.

The best way to treat food intolerances is to eliminate the specific food item and to make sure that your child eats healthily to make sure he's getting all his vitamins and minerals.

What are the symptoms of food intolerance?

  • Skin rashes or swelling.
  • Airways irritations or conditions (asthma, stuffy or runny nose, frequent colds and infections).
  • Tummy trouble like, colic, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, frequent mouth ulcers, reflux, bedwetting, 'sticky poos', irritable bowel symptoms.
  • Nervous system reactions like migraine, headache, anxiety, depression, lethargy, impairment of memory and concentration, panic attacks, irritability, restlessness, inattention, sleep disturbance, restless legs, moodswings.
Which food intolerances do you have experience dealing with?

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