Differentiating Between Allergic Reactions and Food Intolerance with a Simple Test


There have been a number of explanations offered for the markedly increased incidence of allergies among the population of today. However, whatever may be the true cause of this increase, the fact remains that an allergic reaction can have serious consequences, and every precaution should be taken to avoid exposure to the various substances that are responsible for triggering them.

Known as allergens, these substances may be present in the air we breathe, in cosmetics and cleaning products, and more seriously, even in our meals. In the latter case, the reactions they provoke are severe and can be fatal, whereas the effects of food intolerance, though often extremely unpleasant, are not life-threatening, and a simple test can indicate the source of the problem, allowing those who are affected to avoid it in future.

The allergic reaction is a rapid response by the body’s immune system to minute quantities of an allergen. Depending upon the source, it may present as contact dermatitis, hives, hay fever, an asthma attack, or in extreme cases, total respiratory failure that, without prompt treatment, could result in death. By contrast, the symptoms of the milder condition do not involve the immune system at all, are slower to manifest, require a substantial intake, and present as disturbances of the digestive system. Its symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, bloating, and diarrhoea, and so the development of an effective food intolerance test has naturally been welcomed by sufferers wherever it may be available.

Shellfish, milk, nuts, and eggs are just a few of the edibles known to trigger an allergic reaction in susceptible subjects, and while it may be simple enough to avoid these in their natural form, they are often included in processed foodstuffs where their presence is less obvious. Manufacturers are therefore required to undertake stringent analysis of their products, and to warn consumers of the confirmed or potential presence of any offending substances on the labels. For those with symptoms of food intolerance, a test to identify their source should be quite sufficient to prevent any future discomfort.

Any combination of the typical symptoms may be triggered by a surprising number of commonly consumed foodstuffs, all of which may be eaten and enjoyed with no problem by most people. Milk products, wheat, and lactose are among the most frequent culprits, but additives such as MSG, certain chemicals like caffeine, histamine, and alcohol, as well as artificial colourants and preservatives, may all play a role.

A variety of food intolerance test kits are available both for professional and home use, and there are even some online companies that offer to test for up to 250 possible problem substances, armed with just a few strands of the client’s hair. How effective the latter may prove to be is, of course, anyone’s guess, so for those who experience these unpleasant symptoms and are in search of relief, it would be more expedient to approach an expert in the field.

Long acknowledged as South Africa’s leader in the supply of diagnostic kits and equipment, interested dieticians and clinicians would be well advised to consult the specialists at IEPSA when in search of quality products for use in reliable food allergy and intolerance tests.

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