It’s a rough time of year for allergy sufferers. Sniffles, itchy eyes and congestion abound as pollen, mold and other allergens irritate the mucous membranes in our eyes and nasal passages.

Others feel a bit off all the time and don’t know why. In many cases, the culprit isn’t what they’re breathing but rather what’s in the food they eat.

Many people have food sensitivities, but most of them don’t even know it. Symptoms often appear long after the offending food has been consumed. It makes sense then that people wouldn’t make a connection between how they’re feeling and what they’ve put into their bodies.

Food Allergies vs. Food Sensitivity: What’s the difference?

As a broad generalization, if you have an allergy, your body’s response is pretty quick, sometimes immediate, and even life-threatening. Allergic reactions include difficulty breathing, wheezing, flushing, vomiting, itchy skin, throat swelling or hives. Other times it’s more subtle, but food allergies generally affect airways, skin or the gastrointestinal system. An IgE (Immunoglobin E) allergy test will detect antibodies that are produced as an immediate response shortly following ingestion, inhalation or contact with an allergen. Only 1-2% of the population has food allergies, and those that do must be mindful of every food they consume and even are near (like peanuts).

Food sensitivity is sometimes more difficult to detect without a test, as the delay for symptom onset can be from 45 minutes up to three days after ingestion. Symptoms from food sensitivity are generally chronic rather than acute, which makes it even harder to draw any cause and effect connections. Experts believe 20-30% of the population has some kind of food sensitivity. Food sensitivities have been linked to all of the following:

  • fatigue
  • sleepiness after eating
  • insomnia
  • mental fog
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • irritability
  • headaches/migraines
  • acne
  • eczema & other skin disorders
  • weight problems
  • sinus issues
  • joint & muscle pain
  • constipation/diarrhea
  • gas & bloating
  • acid reflux
  • mouth sores
  • coughing
  • food cravings
  • high blood pressure

If I get tested, what do I do with the results?

If it’s an allergy (IgE), the only way to avoid the symptoms is to steer clear of the food. If you have any serious health concerns that accompany the allergy, you should consult your doctor.

Many food sensitivities, however, are linked to a “leaky gut.” You can read more about this in a recent U.S. News Health & Wellness blog. Carefully following a rotation diet based on methodically removing certain foods from your diet for a specific amount of time can allow the gut to heal. Reliable food sensitivity tests will provide a list of “safe” foods as well a game plan.

At InOut Labs, we offer more than 400 IgE allergy tests as well as food sensitivity tests from 2 specialty labs. One of them could be right for you. Give us a call to discuss how we can help. Nothing is more important than your health.