Determining the Difference Between an Allergy and a Sensitivity

Allergies and food sensitivity, or intolerance, affect millions of people in the United States. There may be underlying issues that cause a person to have trouble losing weight, behavioral issues, chronic migraines, hives or a runny nose. To determine if you are affected, ask yourself a few questions: 

  • Do you often feel fatigued or sluggish for no reason?  
  • Do you have the sniffles in the spring or first thing in the morning and occasionally experience breathing trouble? 
  • Do you suspect that certain foods are causing a reaction? 
  • Do you feel nauseous or does your body feel swollen (bloated)? 
  • Do you have an irritable digestive issue immediately after eating or a few hours later? 
  • Have your symptoms or discomfort become progressively worse? 

Many people try to manage these symptoms by taking over-the-counter medications or skipping foods that may cause problems. For example, gluten and celiac disease are in the news quite a bit these days, so eliminating gluten is all the rage. However, you may not be helping your body if you do not have gluten sensitivity and are making drastic changes to your diet.  

There are many good reasons, in addition to relieving your discomfort, to take the next step and determine if you have an allergy or a sensitivity to certain substances. Many people believe that they are allergic to foods that do not “agree with them,” but this is not necessarily true. A food allergy is a very specific immune system response involving either the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody or T-cells. Both are immune system cells that react to a particular food protein, such as milk protein. An IgE reaction occurs within minutes to an hour of smelling, touching or ingesting that food. The presence of the food triggers the immune system to overreact and interpret the food as harmful. Histamine is released, causing symptoms that range from mild to severe, including hives, itching, trouble breathing, wheezing and anaphylaxis. 

About 30,000 Americans per year go to the emergency room and as many as 200 die due to severe allergic reactions to food, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. 

Chronic allergic reactions and sensitivities can cause inflammation and make it difficult for people to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Recent research shows the negative effects of inflammation on our bodies. Continuing to subject your body to allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma also can wreak havoc, preventing you from engaging in healthy activities like exercise. Allergic reactions also can be extremely dangerous for some people. 

Identifying and managing allergies or food and environmental intolerances is not simply about relieving annoying symptoms such as itchy eyes and sneezing. Doing so could finally help clear up that nagging headache or stomachache and get you on the road to a leaner, healthier you. It is quite common to have a reaction to a certain food, but this usually is an intolerance rather than a true allergy. Analyzing your habits and symptoms can help you determine if you have an allergy or intolerance, but getting tested and consulting a doctor can help you know for sure.

Any Lab Test Now provides allergy and sensitivity and intolerance testing. For more information, visit anylabtestnow.com or call 800-384-4567. 

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