If you suffer from food intolerance or food allergy, you may experience unpleasant symptoms after eating certain foods that your body cannot digest or tolerate well. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can affect your quality of life. Fortunately, there are some ways to prevent or treat food intolerance or allergy by following these steps:
• Avoiding the food or foods that cause your symptoms: This is the most effective way to prevent or treat a food intolerance or allergy. You should read food labels carefully and ask about the ingredients when eating out or buying prepared foods. You should also inform your family, friends, school, workplace and health care providers about your condition and how to help you in case of a reaction. By avoiding the food or foods that trigger your symptoms, you can reduce the risk of complications and improve your well-being.
• Taking medication to relieve your symptoms: This can help you cope with mild to moderate symptoms of a food intolerance or allergy. For example, you can take antihistamines to reduce itching, swelling or hives caused by an allergic reaction or lactase enzyme to help you digest lactose if you have lactose intolerance. However, these medications do not prevent or cure your condition and may have side effects or interactions with other drugs. You should always consult your doctor before taking any medication for your condition.
• Carrying an epinephrine auto-injector if you have a severe allergy: This is a device that delivers a dose of epinephrine (adrenaline) into your thigh muscle to counteract the effects of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. You should always carry it with you and know how to use it in case of an emergency. You should also seek medical attention immediately after using it,since the effects may wear off after 15 to 20 minutes.
• Following a balanced diet that meets your nutritional needs: This can help you maintain your health and well-being while avoiding the food or foods that cause your symptoms. You should eat a variety of foods from all the food groups and ensure you get enough protein, calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and other nutrients that may be lacking in your diet due to your condition. You may also benefit from consulting a registered dietitian who can help you plan a suitable diet for your needs.
In addition to these steps, you should also see your doctor or an allergist if you suspect you have a food intolerance or allergy. They can perform tests to identify the cause of your symptoms and advise you on how to manage them. Some of the tests they may use are:
• Elimination diet: This is a method of removing foods that are suspected to cause intolerance or allergy from your diet for a period of time until your symptoms improve. Then, you reintroduce the foods one by one and monitor for any reactions. This can help you pinpoint which food or foods are causing your symptoms. However, this method requires careful planning and supervision by a health professional to ensure you get adequate nutrition and avoid false results.
• Skin prick test: This is a method of exposing your skin to small amounts of different foods and observing for any signs of an allergic reaction, such as redness, swelling or itching. This can help you determine which food or foods you are allergic to. However, this method may not be reliable for non-IgE mediated allergies or intolerances, which do not involve an immediate immune response. It may also cause false positives or negatives due to cross-reactivity with other allergens or medications.
• Blood test: This is a method of measuring the level of antibodies in your blood that are specific to certain foods. Antibodies are proteins that your immune system produces to fight off foreign substances. A high level of antibodies indicates that you have an allergic reaction to that food. However, this method may not be accurate for non-IgE mediated allergies or intolerances, which do not involve antibody production. It may also be affected by factors such as age, genetics or exposure history.
By following these steps and tests, you can know if you have a food intolerance or a food allergy and how to deal with them effectively.