Allergies & Food Intolerance

What is the difference between allergies and food intolerance?
It seems that the food, which we eat sometimes, contains hidden dangers. When analysing statistics collected by the Higher Institute of Health and other research agencies, one finds that 20% of the population has problems due to food intolerance to more than one food type consumed on a regular basis. The situation has worsened in the past couple of years, due to the manipulation food is undergoing when being produced and consumed.  A clear distinction needs to be made between the terms allergies, pseudo-allergies and intolerance.  In the case of allergies, the symptomlogy is more acute and occurs suddenly without warning; these vary according to the age.  In the breast-fed child the gastro-intestinal system is mainly affected; in the child, it is the skin and successively the respiratory system whilst in the adult various symptoms can result. These vary from skin rushes to respiratory problems sometimes even resulting in serious anaphylactic shock.With intolerance although similar symptoms can be observed, they are milder and can occur even after 24 hours from the ingestion of the “offending” food.  Even intolerance, like allergies can be accompanied by anxiety states and feelings of constant fatigue.

Differences in the appearance of symptoms
It is important to note that one does not become allergic but is born that way.  There can be a genetic predisposition towards this illness that can manifest itself in different ways, forms and also varying from individual to individual; baby, adult, and elderly.  One has to note that if in a family one of its members is allergic, a high probability exists that even the descendents will be affected.

Diagnosis and Cure
One can definitely improve the situation with corrective therapy and one can even overcome this problem. This however takes long and the patient needs to collaborate. Only in infants and children does the condition worsen spontaneously such as in puberty.  It is always useful to undergo specific tests.  Diagnosis of allergies is very complex and requires a comprehensive collection of the patient’s case history, an intensive and accurate medical visit and skin test (the best are those which make use of fresh food).  If one wants to confirm further the results one can refer to RAST. This is a test that helps to identify the presence of immunoglobine E (substances produced by the immune system as a reaction of intolerance) towards a particular food. Subsequently, if the clinical history indicates particular food intolerance, reaction tests can be carried out. These require the controlled ingestion of the dangerous substance.  The best therapy consists of avoiding eating the substance causing the allergy once it has been identified.  The foods one has to look out for are: milk, glutens, eggs, flour, Soya, fish and crustaceans and many more. In this web site we will deal with milk and gluten allergies. One also has to be on the look out for those foods, which in a hidden way can hide guilty substances. Milk for example is one of the most difficult substances to identify as it is used in any industrial manufacturing that can make use of even one component. One therefore does not find these substances only in cheese, cream or yoghurt but also in sweets, and food products for infants. The latter, except for ham, salami and bresaola contain milk serum.This page hopes to provide guidelines to those individual who suffer from allergies especially milk and gluten. It also provides links to a number of sites, which range from specialised centres to recipes so as to be able to supply useful addresses for both residents and visitors to Rome and its Province. This site in no way wants to substitute any information provided by a medical professional.  It is essential that one seek the assistance of a professional doctor to be able to diagnose and provide the necessary treatment.

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                     Updated 20/02/2002