Allergies & Food Intolerances
What is an allergy?
An allergy is a reaction that occurs when your immune system over-responds to a food, airborne or topical substance. An allergy is an IgE immune response and occurs as a result of a hormone called histamine being released into the body in response to this substance, known as an “allergen”.
Common forms of allergy include asthma, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), eczema, dermatitis, hives, generalised itching, allergic headaches, and allergic digestive disturbances. Severe allergic reactions are known as “anaphylaxis”, which is a life-threatening condition that must be treated urgently with adrenaline and steroid medications.
Common allergens include pollens, house dust mites, mould spores, animal hair and foods such as gluten, dairy, chocolate, eggs, citrus, nuts and certain seafood, especially shell fish, as well as some food colourings and preservatives.
While the most common treatment for allergies is the prescription of antihistamines (pharmaceutical or herbal) and/or the avoidance of known allergens, it is important to identify the cause or causes of an allergy and to boost the immune system’s over reactivity to that allergen so that they may be better able to deal with the response should it occur in the future. This can be successfully achieved using naturopathic medicine treatment.
What is a food intolerance?
Unlike allergies, food intolerances do not involve an IgE acute immune response. Food intolerances occur when a person is exposed to reactive or hard-to-digest foods over a long period. The reaction is generally not as acute or severe as an allergic reaction, but may severely impact on quality of life.
Common symptoms of food intolerance’s include:
- Diarrhoea and/or constipation
- Post nasal drip
- Skin rashes (eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, hives)
- Mood disturbances
- Autism spectrum-like behaviours in children
- Generalised feelings of being unwell
The treatment for food intolerances involves a different approach to allergy treatment and involves: addressing poor gut function, immune enhancement, as well as the avoidance of the identified food/s. This can be successfully achieved using naturopathic medicine treatment.
How are food allergies and intolerances tested
Your practitioner will order an allergy or food intolerance profile when they suspect that the cause of your symptoms is due to an allergy or intolerance to an environmental or dietary trigger.
Testing may include IgG Food Blood Panels (which can test for up to 96 foods) or an IgE Blood Test (allergy antibody levels) to test for house dust and house mites, grass and weed pollens, mould spores and animal hair.
In mild cases, your practitioner may instruct you on the “fast and challenge” testing procedure for food allergies and intolerances, which can be very effective in identifying problematic foods, without the need for further testing. This can be especially valuable for children, but should always be done under supervision of one of our practitioners.