Home Medical News Understanding Food Allergies and Intolerances: Expert Insights and Tips for Management

Understanding Food Allergies and Intolerances: Expert Insights and Tips for Management

by Dr. Shruthi R
Understanding Food Allergies and Intolerances: Expert Insights and Tips for Management

Explore the nuances of food allergies and intolerances with expert advice from Dr. Meghna Potluri. Learn how to manage these conditions effectively for a healthier life.

Food allergies and food intolerances are often confused, but they are distinct conditions with different underlying mechanisms and symptoms. Food allergies involve the immune system’s response to specific proteins in food, while food intolerances are related to the digestive system’s inability to properly digest certain foods. Both can cause discomfort and, in some cases, serious health issues if not managed properly.

Food allergies are immune system reactions that occur soon after eating a particular food. These reactions are triggered by the production of antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which target specific allergens in the food. When these antibodies come into contact with the allergen, they release chemicals that cause allergic symptoms. Common symptoms of food allergies include skin reactions like hives and itching, gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea, and respiratory problems like wheezing and shortness of breath. In severe cases, food allergies can lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

On the other hand, food intolerances are non-immune reactions that occur when the digestive system is unable to properly digest certain foods. This can be due to enzyme deficiencies, such as lactose intolerance, where the body lacks the enzyme needed to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. Other common food intolerances include histamine intolerance, where the body cannot properly metabolize histamines found in certain foods, and gluten sensitivity, which is different from celiac disease but can cause similar symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Dr. Meghna Potluri, a Consultant in Allergy and Immunology at Manipal Hospital in Varthur, Bangalore, emphasizes the importance of proper diagnosis and management of food allergies and intolerances. At Manipal Hospitals, a dedicated team of allergists and gastroenterologists work together to diagnose these conditions using high-end tests and provide treatment according to international recommendations.

Managing food allergies and intolerances involves identifying and avoiding trigger foods, which may require careful reading of food labels and asking about ingredients when eating out. In cases of food allergies, carrying an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) is essential in case of accidental exposure to allergens. For food intolerances, avoiding or limiting the consumption of trigger foods can help alleviate symptoms.

In conclusion, food allergies and intolerances are distinct conditions that require proper management to prevent symptoms and potential complications. Working with healthcare professionals who specialize in these areas can help individuals effectively manage their condition and improve their quality of life.

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