Knowing the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity can better help you determine the type of testing best suited to the problem. A food allergy is when the immune system targets a specific food protein as an allergen. The body attacks it and as a result produces large amounts of immunoglobulin E (IgE). The release of IgE causes the release of histamines and other chemicals which cause what is known as an allergic reaction. Food allergies symptoms range from mild to severe such as hives, swelling, dry cough, intestinal problems, eczema, headaches, etc. Only about 4-5% of the population has a true, immediate food allergy; some common allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. A delayed response in food allergy is more frequently seen. Instead of the production of IgE, the body produces IgG. The result of IgG production can lead to symptoms such as asthma, eczema, headaches, joint pain, fatigue and more. Delayed response to food allergen generally takes about 48-72 hours for symptoms to occur.
On the other hand, sensitivities to food are not caused by an immune response but instead an unpleasant reaction to certain foods commonly in the form of stomach upset, acid reflux, and nausea. Nearly 70- 80% of Americans have a food intolerance; common foods include dairy products and gluten rich foods.
Ways to tackle food intolerances is through an elimination diet method to first detect the suspect foods. If this alone doesn’t eliminate symptoms, getting a food sensitivity blood test such as an ALCAT test can match what types of food one is sensitive to. Two common ways to test for food allergies are a blood test that measures the amount of IgE and or IgG present for certain types of food. A basic skin prick test which tests for immediate IgE immune reactions to foods is also used.
For more information about food allergy and/or food sensitivity testing, please contact Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center at 206-319-5322 or firstname.lastname@example.org