You’ve heard of food allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerance. First of all, food sensitivity and intolerance are essentially the same thing – they cause digestive issues and can even cause headaches.
It’s food allergies that can potentially cause a life-threatening reaction. Let’s talk about how you can find out what is causing your reaction, how your food sensitivity or food allergy can be treated, and where you can go in Garfield to see a doctor for testing and treatment today, without an appointment.
Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities: What’s the Difference?
Any kind of allergy, including a food allergy, is an overreaction by the immune system. When people consume foods they are allergic to, the body’s defense system responds with a flood of IgE (immunoglobulin E) antibodies in an attempt to “fight off” the allergen.
IgEs are detectable in your blood, and they produce an allergic reaction that causes a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Skin rash
- Anaphylactic shock (in extreme cases)
On the other hand, food sensitivities originate in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. When someone who has a food intolerance consumes an offending food – such as dairy products – they may begin to suffer uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal cramping, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
The symptoms of a food sensitivity are not life-threatening, but they can severely interfere with your lifestyle.
Testing for Food Allergy vs. Food Sensitivity
The physician may test you for food allergies with a simple skin prick test, which introduces minute amounts of suspected allergens under the skin. After a few minutes or more, the doctor evaluates the skin reactions (if any).
If the doctor determines that the issue is not an allergy but rather a sensitivity, you may be asked to undergo a blood test called the Mediator Release Test (MRT). When your blood sample is exposed to suspected foods which cause sensitivity symptoms, the white blood cell–to–blood plasma ratio should shrink in response.
Another type of blood assessment to determine food sensitivity is the Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Test (ALCAT). This test actually detects shrinkage in the size of white blood cells (leukocytes) in the sample, as opposed to evaluating the ratio of these cells to the plasma. Doctors prefer the ALCAT when irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is suspected.
For patients wishing to avoid blood tests and skin prick tests altogether, the elimination diet may help to produce accurate information about sensitivities. With an elimination diet, the patient stops consuming a variety of suspect foods – such as wheat and dairy. Then, gradually, the person will reintroduce one food at a time, noting if and when any sensitivity symptoms begin. This process is called an oral challenge.
Urgent Care Center in Garfield, New Jersey
If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms of any kind, visit My Doc Urgent Care for an efficient assessment and treatment. We will evaluate your symptoms, possibly perform some testing, determine a diagnosis, and recommend treatment options.
Come see us today – we are open 7 days a week, and no appointment is necessary. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at (862) 295-3501. We look forward to serving you!