Have you ever eaten something and had a bad reaction? If so, you may have a food allergy, or what's known as food intolerance. An estimated 11 million Americans are allergic to common foods such as milk, eggs, nuts and shellfish. There is no cure for food allergies; avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction.
A food allergy is the immune system's response to a food the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Once the immune system decides that a food is harmful, it creates antibodies to fight it. The next time the food is ingested, the immune system triggers an allergic response, which can include respiratory, gastrointestinal, skin, or cardiovascular reactions.
Food Allergies and Intolerances
An anaphylactic reaction is the most serious type of allergic reaction. Click here to learn more about preventing and treating an anaphylactic reaction.
Food intolerance is more common than a food allergy. If you experience headaches or bloating after eating certain foods, you may have a food intolerance. For example, if you get headaches after eating cheese or chocolate, your body may be reacting to components in these foods. You may also experience reactions to certain food additives, such as food dyes, sulfites and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Gluten intolerance is one of the most common types of food intolerance. Click here to visit the gluten-free section of our website and learn more about starting and maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle.
Food Allergies and Intolerance in Children
Dealing with children who have food allergies can be a struggle for parents. A child with one or more food allergies may have difficulty getting enough calories and nutrients. Your physician or dietician can help you develop an appropriate diet and safe grocery list. He or she can also teach you and your child how to read food labels to locate safe ingredients.