Feel Better,
Faster.

Is it a Food Allergy or Intolerance?

Food allergies and food intolerances affect millions of people of all ages.  It is important to know the difference between the two to help prevent and treat potentially serious and life-threatening reactions.
Food allergies affect millions of people daily in the United States.  Normally, the body’s immune system identifies and destroys bacteria and viruses that often make you sick.  When someone has a food allergy, their body’s immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless food protein as a threat, and attacks it with antibodies.  These antibodies fight the food allergen by releasing chemicals and histamines, therefore triggering the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
There are a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe that shortly appear after eating the trigger food.  In several cases, an anaphylactic attack might occur, which is a severe, potentially fatal allergic reaction.

Mild Moderate Severe
Itchy skin Vomiting Trouble swallowing
Sneezing Nasal congestion Shortness of breath
Nausea Slight, dry cough Swelling of lips/tongue/throat
Hives Stomach pain Turning blue
Redness of Skin Diarrhea Drop in blood pressure
Chest pain
A weak pulse

 
Make sure you seek attention if you develop any of the above listed symptoms.  Severe symptoms, especially when they are combined with any mild/moderate symptoms, might be a sign of anaphylaxis and will require immediate treatment.
If you have allergies and carry an Epi-Pen on you in case of an emergency, make sure you seek IMMEDIATE medical attention after injecting yourself with epinephrine.  Even if symptoms subside after the injection, the reaction May return several hours later.  Play it safe and go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
If you or someone you love has allergies, make sure you learn as much as you can about avoiding them.

  • Be aware of the ingredients in food labels and when dining out don’t hesitate to ask questions.
  •  Always carry your medication, especially your Epi-pen.  Make sure you know how to properly use these medications.
  • Wear allergy identification  (ex. bracelets or other jewelry) at all times
  • Get to an emergency room or call 911 immediately for further medical treatment, even if you used your emergency medication.

Food intolerances, on the other hand, are reactions to different chemical components of one’s diet.  It is not an immune response like an allergy.  Food intolerance may be caused by certain organic chemicals such as food additives, preservatives, colorings, flavorings, sulfites, or dyes.  In comparison to allergens, food intolerance is completely different and is more common
Symptoms of food intolerance can be very similar to an allergy, but they usually take longer to develop and may only happen when you eat a large amount of that trigger food.   Symptoms of food intolerance might include:

Hives Upset stomach Diarrhea
Nausea Bloating Asthma-like symptoms
Nasal congestion Constipation Headache
Gas Nervousness Sweating

 
Common food intolerance reactions are caused by dairy products, chocolate, eggs, MSG, fruits, and wine.  Outcome for food intolerance is generally good and non-life threatening.
The easiest way to prevent food allergies or food intolerances is to avoid the food or derivatives in general.  You can never be too cautious!
For more information about food allergies and food intolerances visit:
www.aafp.org

Health News + Events

When Should You Get Tested for COVID-19?

If you were recently around someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you’re probably wondering if you should get tested yourself. Even if you’re not exhibiting symptoms of  Read More

What’s the Difference Between Rapid & PCR COVID-19 Tests?

If you’ve been feeling under the weather or you were recently in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you’re probably looking into your COVID-19 testing options. And if so  Read More

Virtual Visits for the Flu: Pros & Cons

When you’re experiencing flu symptoms, you want the treatment you need as soon as possible. But which urgent care option is going to be the best choice for you: a virtual telemed  Read More

What Our Patients Are Saying

Rating 4.4
Rating 4.2
Rating 4.6
Rating 5.0

"The overall care I received was excellent! I also appreciate your affiliation with Yale New Haven Hospital."

Patient
Derby, CT

"Throughout the visit I felt like the staff really cared. The Doctor took his time talking with me about my symptoms, and I felt like he listened to all my concerns and took that into consideration when recommending the right treatment. Thank you!"

Patient
Hamden, CT

"I had to take my son in for an ear infection following a sudden change in temperament at daycare. He was inconsolable the entire car ride but when we got there and by the time we left this care facility he was back to his normal happy go lucky little two year old boy. I highly recommend PhysicianOne Urgent Care."

Patient
Westwood, MA

"I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the attention you gave me last week. My son was started on antibiotics and ear drops. Within 24 hours he began to feel better. The poor kid had been going to school in tears because he was afraid of missing any more days, but feeling (and looking) just awful! He's not been able to even think about lacrosse practice, but thanks to starting him on antibiotics, he was thrilled to return to practice today."

Patient
Somers, NY