How Food Allergies Differ From Food Intolerances

Feeding a baby food that he or she develops an allergic reaction to is an event that no parent wants to experience. However, a parent must realize that a food allergy differs from a food intolerance. In order to understand the fine distinction between these two closely related topics, one must first understand what each means. After clearly understanding the difference between a food allergy and an intolerance, a parent can better protect his or her precious baby and become more aware of the potential dangers. russian food store

First, a food allergy is an adverse immune response to the food consumed. This is not at all a rare condition, and according to a recent study published in the journal “Pediatrics,” an estimated 8 percent of children have a food allergy. Food allergies occur when a baby’s immune system mistakenly perceives a protein or other compound in the food as harmful. In order to fight off this “invasion,” the immune system triggers a response, which is considered the allergic reaction. These responses can include hives, itchiness, difficulty swallowing, fainting, vomiting, nausea and wheezing. Some of these responses are very serious and require immediate medical attention, which makes them particularly scary in babies.

Food intolerance, on the other hand, does not involve an immunologic reaction from the body, but still causes the consumer to develop a reaction. A common example of a food intolerance is lactose intolerance. People who are lactose intolerant lack an enzyme necessary to digest lactose; as a result, they can experience gas, bloating or pain when consuming milk-related products. Luckily, methods exist to work around many kinds of intolerance. For example, almost all supermarkets now carry lactose-free dairy products specifically for this reason. Additionally, people with severe lactose intolerance symptoms can obtain lactase tablets, which help them digest the lactose in foods.

The next step after knowing the difference between an allergy and an intolerance is to understand proper prevention to decrease the probability of a reaction of either type. First of all, it is recommended that parents delay feeding their babies solid foods until six months of age. By that time, the babies’ digestive and immune systems are more developed, and this lessens the chance of a serious reaction that requires medical attention. Furthermore, as parents introduce new foods to their babies, they should follow the four day rule. This rule states that once a new food is introduced, parents should feed their babies that food for four days without adding any other new foods to their babies’ diets. This is because allergic reactions can sometimes occur three to four days after the consumption of the allergen. By following the four day rule, parents make it easy to identify food allergies in babies.