is it food allergy or intolerance
Published on 2/28/2011
Food intolerance sometimes may be confused with food allergy. Common conditions which may be confused with food allergy include:
Lactose intolerance, Gluten intolerance, Sulfite sensitivity, MSG sensitivity, Food poisoning, Histamine content in fish.
Lactose intolerance

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and most milk products.Lactase is an enzyme in the lining of the gut that breaks down or digests lactose. Lactose intolerance occurs when lactase is missing. Instead of the enzyme breaking down the sugar, bacteria in the gut break it down, which forms gas, which in turn causes symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain, and sometimes diarrhea.

Lactose intolerance is uncommon in babies and young children under the age of 5 years. Because lactase levels decline as people get older, lactose intolerance becomes more common with age. Lactose intolerance also varies widely based on racial and ethnic background.

Gluten sensitivity:

Gluten is a part of wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten intolerance is associated with celiac disease, also called gluten-sensitive enteropathy. This disease develops when the immune system responds abnormally to gluten. This abnormal response does not involve IgE antibody and is not considered a food allergy.

MSG sensitivity: Compounds such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and sulfites are tied to reactions that can be confused with food allergy.

MSG is a flavor enhancer. When taken in large amounts, it can cause some of the following:

    • Flushing
    • Sensations of warmth
    • Headache
    • Chest discomfort

    These passing reactions occur rapidly after eating large amounts of food to which MSG has been added.

Sulfites:  Sulfites are found in food for several reasons:
  • They have been added to increase crispness or prevent mold growth.
  • They occur naturally in the food.
  • They have been generated during the winemaking process.

Sulfites can cause breathing problems in people with asthma.

Histamine content in fish:  Fish, such as tuna and mackerel that are not refrigerated properly and become contaminated by bacteria, may contain very high levels of histamine. A person who eats such fish may show symptoms that are similar to food allergy. However, this reaction is not a true allergic reaction. Instead, the reaction is called histamine toxicity or scombroid food poisoning

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