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Food Sensitivity Versus Food Allergies

Food sensitivity and food allergies are two very different things. Dr. Julia Snyder, a board-certified doctor in family medicine, holistic and interactive medicine, explains the differences.

The most common reason people react to certain foods is a true food allergy. A food allergy is mediated by the fast-responding antibody IgE. This may result in an immediate and intense reaction, such as anaphylaxis. The most common symptoms of a food allergy include tingling or itching in the mouth, hives, itching and swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat. Treatment usually involves avoiding the culprit foods, using medications as needed and possibly desensitization through allergy shots.

Food sensitivities, on the other hand, are less understood and methods for accurate testing are still being researched. A food sensitivity is thought to be a chronic, low-level allergic reaction and can have a delayed response of one to three days after eating a triggering food. Symptoms may include arthritis, IBS, migraines, asthma and chronic fatigue, amongst others. There are other assays of food sensitivity as well. A recent study in BMJ Gastroenterology showed that a leukocyte activation test found that people who had IBS and followed a rotation diet based on their testing had improvements in symptom severity.

To determine if a food sensitivity is present, IgG/IgA testing can be used to support a diagnosis based on symptoms. If symptoms are present, this testing can be useful for confirmation and can be the basis for an elimination diet to improve the situation.

Resource: R-Health. Location: 1040 Kings Hwy. N., Cherry Hill, NJ. For more information, call 856-523-4323 or visit R-Health.md. 

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