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What is the difference between food allergy, sensitivity, and intolerance?
A food allergy is what we most commonly think of when someone allergic ingests peanuts. An
immediate immune reaction in which swelling, redness, hives, trouble breathing and anaphylaxis. This is
mediated by the immune protein IgE.
Food intolerances are particular foods that the body cannot digest as it lacks a certain enzyme or
substance to properly break it down. Quite often causing bloating, gas, and diarrhea and eventually lead
to more persistent digestive concerns if the food is often eaten. Lactose intolerance is the most common
example, in which the body lacks the enzyme to digest milk sugar, lactose.
Food Sensitivities, in contrast to allergies, are a delayed immune reaction. In which the body may take
hours or days to respond to, as the consumption of the food needs to get to a threshold level to produce
enough immune proteins for a reaction to occur. This immune reaction is mediated by IgG immune
proteins, not allergic IgE. For most people food sensitivities manifest as digestive symptoms; gas,
bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, but for others, it can cause brain fog, lack of concentration,
headache, fatigue, weight gain, and also common skin conditions such as eczema.
How can I get tested for food allergies or sensitivities?
An allergy(IgE) can only be tested for with a referral from your medical doctor to an allergist who will do
skin scratch testing or blood testing of several foods to determine which, if any food, you are allergic to.
This is covered by MSP.
Food sensitivities(IgG) are measured by blood and once the sample is sent off, takes approximately 10
days for the results to come back. Once the results are received you will discuss with your naturopathic
doctor your test results and options for treatment.
I would like to know my sensitivities but do not want to do the testing.
We can then do what is called an elimination/challenge diet, whereby the top offending substances are
removed for a few months. This allows the digestive tract an opportunity to heal while no offending
substances are irritating it. Each food is then slowly reintroduced one by one, watching for any
response/reaction with each food introduction. This will determine if you can keep eating something,
eat something in small amounts, or avoid a particular food altogether.
Can I be reactive to food that never bothered me before?
Yes, a food sensitivity that was once never can issue can arise later in life. This can be from many
different factors but typically from poor digestion, stress, overconsumption of particular foods,
During the spring and summer months up to a quarter of us suffer from hay fever. Seasonal allergies can
not only be disruptive during the day, constantly reassuring others that it is only allergies but it can
also be disruptive to our sleep. Environmental allergens enter our system through our nose, mouth, ears
or eyes, and to those who have a more reactive immune system, those allergens cause mast cells to
release histamine into the blood. This can cause several different symptoms:
At Coast Therapy Dr. Galuska offers skin scratch testing of common environmental allergens such as
weeds, trees, grasses, mold, cats etc. A drop of the allergen is placed on the forearm and the skin is
scratched. If someone is reactive to an allergen a red, raised bump will form over the span for 10-15
minutes. Once your allergens have been determined a personalized treatment plan will be formulated for you.
This can include diet changes, herbal therapies, vitamins and sublingual immunotherapy, described below.
Sublingual Immunotherapy(SLIT) is an effective, injection-free, way to help reduce your allergy
symptoms and prevent new allergies or asthma from forming. After your allergens are determined a
diluted form of these allergens are mixed with a liquid in order to be taken under the tongue. These very
small doses help your body slowly mount an immune response and desensitize to the allergen. Over a
period of four to six months(build-up phase), the dosage is gradually increased to a maximum dose
where the patient will remain (depending on symptom severity) for up to two years(maintenance
phase). Currently, more research is being conducted using SLIT for eczema as well as food allergies, with
results looking promising. Patients over the age of 3 can benefit from this therapy, but you should
discuss with your doctor through a thorough health history to ensure sublingual immunotherapy is right
Adults and children can benefit from this therapy. If you have environmental allergens, hay fever, allergic rhinitis, or asthma. It may also be effective for children with eczema and those will oral allergy syndrome.
Much like going to an allergist, several allergens will be tested by pricking the skin (on the forearms). Over 15 minutes the arms will be monitored to see if a raised wheal develops where the skin has been pricked.
There is a build-up phase that last up to several weeks where we slowly increase the dosage over time. Then we move into the maintenance phase once allergen tolerance has been achieved and where the highest dosage is taken.
Yes, but usually very mild. Most common is itching of the mouth and stomach upset, generally when first taking the therapy, or at a dosage increase. Very rarely it can cause an anaphylactic reaction so the first dose is always taken with your doctor.
Those who have severe, uncontrolled asthma, patients on beta blockers, if you’ve had an anaphylactic reaction to immunotherapy in the past, or if you have any other unstable condition(such as heart conditions).
Coast Therapy is an award-winning provider of Massage Therapy & Physiotherapy services to Port Coquitlam, East Vancouver, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Coquitlam residents for over 16 years.
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