According to most information available from medical sources, there is a difference between food sensitivity and food allergy. If you believe you have either of these, it would be a good idea to discuss with a medical professional. To get started, you might want to devote some time to learning the difference. It’s a good first step in becoming an educated consumer/patient.

Most people understand that special diets have become all the rage in the last few decades. You’ve probably hear about salt-free, gluten-free, diary-free etc. Some individuals avoid specific food categories because they are sensitive to them, which means your digestive system reacts to the introduction of the food type. This can cause discomfort but you generally don’t have to be afraid of becoming ill or even having your life threatened.

Allergy

Being allergic to certain foods is a much different concept. If you are truly allergic to a food category your body’s immune system will be triggered. When your body is sensitive to a food or just won’t tolerate it, you may feel nauseous, get cramps or gas, experience diarrhea or constipation. When you’re allergic to a food type you will usually experience swelling, hives, itching, dizziness or anaphylaxis.

This last condition occurs when your body releases an abundance of chemicals that may cause you to go into shock. Blood pressure can drop, airways become narrow and it’s difficult to breathe. You may experience weak, rapid pulse or skin rash. Some individuals also experience nausea and vomiting.

Food sensitivity is usually not life threatening. If your body won’t tolerate a certain type of food it just has difficulty processing or digesting that food material. This condition is more common than true food allergy. Some people are milk intolerant because their bodies won’t break down lactose, the sugar in dairy products, to cite just one example.

Enzymes

You may be sensitive to certain foods because your body doesn’t have the correct enzymes needed to digest that specific food. Some people are sensitive to artificial colors or to sulphites used in food preparation. Others react strongly to such ingredients or chemicals as caffeine or to the natural toxins in raw beans. The causes vary widely, but in most cases the major problem is discomfort.

However, if you are allergic to a specific food you could be taking chances with your health when you consume it. The body can release antibodies that cause an immediate reaction. This can be fatal, so it’s a good idea to talk with a medical professional about problems you have with certain foods. Allergic reactions to food are generally caused by foods in eight categories: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soybeans.

It may be necessary to use self-injectable epinephrine to treat allergies. This should be available to individuals at all times, because it’s possible to accidentally ingest a food ingredient. Whether you have food allergy or food sensitivity, you should stay away from those foods. One may be more serious than the other, but you’ll find even sensitivity is unpleasant.