Saturday, 12 February 2011

Allergy or Intolerance?

Sometimes, what you think could be a food allergy, is actually food intolerance. The symptoms, such as vomiting, stomach ache and diarrhoea can be the same for both conditions. But food intolerance doesn’t involve the immune system. Fruit is a good example. The natural acids in fruit can cause redness around your child’s mouth and all the natural sugars can cause diarrhoea, but these aren’t allergic reactions.

Similarly there is a difference between allergies affecting various parts of the body. A "Gut Allergy" for example will probably not show up in a skin prick test, or a RAST blood test but will present as predominantly gut symptoms and WILL involve the immune system.

The Government has produced a useful page on children's allergies here and BUPA have here .
True allergies can be tested for, by the traditional skin prick test or by blood tests called RAST tests. This is a "radio-immune assay test and is described The skin prick test basically involves allowing a small drop of the allergen to enter below the skin by pricking the surface and observing the result.

Unfortunately the only way to determine if you or your child has a food intolerance is to commence an exclusion diet. In the case of a child advice should always be sought first from your doctor since children are growing and require a complex combination of nutrients, excluding whole food groups requires careful management and substitution.

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