Food Allergy vs Food Intolerance


With the fast pace of life in Hong Kong, mental sensitivity will inevitably occur. However, if you feel unwell after eating certain foods, it may not necessarily be due to food allergies.

The adverse reactions after eating may be related to “food intolerance”. It is not difficult to distinguish between the two. When food allergies appear, the mouth and face will be swollen within 30 minutes to an hour. In severe cases, it can be fatal. Food intolerance has nothing to do with the immune system. Generally, discomfort occurs after 1 to 2 days of eating a large amount of food, so there is no need to worry too much.

To explore the principle between the two, we must first understand that food allergies are induced by a certain food protein that causes the immune system to react, leading to swollen mouth, eyes and face or acute reactions such as stomach cramps and vomiting. The symptoms usually appear within 30 minutes to an hour after eating. However, chemicals in food, such as histamine, can also stimulate immune cells, causing blood vessels in the skin to swell, leading to rubella. This is called a type-1 allergic reaction. The adverse reactions caused by histamine are not caused by the immune system per se. They usually occur after a large amount of food is eaten and the body does not break them down in time. Most patients do not feel well until a day or two after eating.

Late-onset of “Food Intolerance”, accidents due to over-eating

To distinguish whether you have food allergies, you can also start with the “food preparation method”.

To distinguish whether you have food allergies, you can start with the “food preparation method”. Dr Loo pointed that, “If some people feel unwell after eating fresh pineapples, but do not have such symptoms after eating canned pineapples or dried pineapples, they are more likely to suffer from food intolerances rather than food allergies. Chemicals such as enzymes will decompose on their own, so canned food will be fine.” On the contrary, if you suffer from food allergies, it does not matter whether it is fresh or dried food, as allergic proteins still exist, and you will still experience allergic reactions after eating.

In terms of treatment

If it is simply food intolerance, you can control the amount of your diet to suppress the symptoms from occurring. The most common causes of food intolerance are fermented wine, sausage, and ham. Normally patients do not feel any effects. They only feel unwell after a large meal. As long as they control their diet, there will be no problem.

Yet, the treatment of food allergies is much more complicated. There have been cases overseas, a patient kissed his girlfriend who had eaten peanuts, and the patient died of severe allergy. Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved a new desensitization therapy. People with severe peanut allergies can use skin patches containing trace amounts of peanut ingredients under the supervision of a doctor so that the body can slowly adapt to peanuts to treat allergies.

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