Food Allergy Terms and Definitions

Food "intolerance" and "sensitivity" are the terms that are commonly used interchangeably to describe a condition in which an individual cannot effectively process a certain type of food. These terms refer to a set of reactions that are not mediated by IgE antibodies, whereas in cases involving true food allergies, IgE antibodies play a prominent role in the allergic reaction. In the most general sense, the words "intolerance" and "sensitivity" refer to negative or unpleasant reactions that occur after a food is eaten in certain individuals. Food allergies and their associated reactions can be quite severe – in some cases, leading to a potentially life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis - while the reactions associated with food intolerances and sensitivities typically range from mild to medium levels of discomfort, affected various systems of the body.
Seasonal allergies refer to such things as hay fever, which often incites symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, wheezing, and itchy, watery eyes in those that are affected. When individuals complain to their doctors of symptoms such as stomach pains, diarrhea, nausea and headaches, sometimes doctors do not think to explore the possibility that the individual has developed an allergy or sensitivity to a certain type of food or environmental allergen. With the usual exception of allergists and gastroenterologists, doctors are not always quick to explore the history of the patient's symptoms, which could in some cases lead to the diagnosis of a true allergy or sensitivity. Many individuals that commonly experience adverse symptoms sometimes think that what they are experiencing is "normal", when in fact, the individual may be experiencing symptoms that could cease to exist if they were to remove an offending food from their diet, or an offending substance from their environment (i.e. ragweed, pollen, pet dander etc).

Peanut allergy is the food allergy that typically leads to the most severe allergic responses in individuals that are sensitive to peanuts, in cases involving true food allergies. Allergic reactions due to severe peanut allergies can vary from mild irritation to fatal anaphylactic reactions. In serious cases, the allergic reaction is swift and severe.

Many individuals in industrialized and "western" countries, such as Canada, the United States, Australia, and the U.K. are affected by both food and environment sensitivities, and true food allergies. Individuals that are severely affected by true food allergies must exercise extreme caution when eating away from home. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to find a restaurant that can safely accommodate special dietary requests and food allergies. Checking trusted allergy reviews for restaurants online is one way that people affected by food allergies can help increase their chances of having a safe, worry-free meal when eating away from home. By learning about restaurants that handle food allergies well, individuals affected by certain foods can discover new restaurants online that they might be interested in visiting.

It is possible to live a safe, happy, and full life with food sensitivities and true food allergies. The journey does in fact get much easier when individuals with these conditions have access to some of the many incredible resources that have been created for them. The Internet provides a wonderful way of connecting and gaining access to the many things that can help individuals make their lives safer and easier.


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