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Know the Distinction Between a Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity

November 23, 2021 –
Elizabeth Kayser

Food allergies are no laughing matter. In fact, consuming the wrong thing could be the difference between life and death for some people.

It really can be that serious. All humans deal with various sensitivities to different foods. However, having a sensitivity to a certain food and an allergy are totally different things. As stated, an allergy can be deadly depending on how allergic you are to a specific food. People dying from allergic reactions to food does not need to happen.

The difference between a food allergy and sensitivity is the body’s response. When you have a food allergy your immune system causes the reaction. If you have a food sensitivity or intolerance, the reaction is triggered by the digestive system.

The diagnosis of food allergies may be problematic because nonallergic food reactions, such as food intolerances, are frequently confused with food allergy symptoms. Intolerance derived from an immunological mechanism is referred to as a food allergy, and the non-immunological mechanism is called a food sensitivity. Food allergies and sensitivities are often linked, but there’s a clear difference between the two conditions.

Another challenge is that people can have different reactions to the same food while being allergic to it. For example, someone may be able to consume a small portion and not feel well, but don’t necessarily have a severe allergic reaction. Another person could eat the same amount and possibly die because of an allergic reaction.

STAT Medical is here to help you figure out what is safe and what to steer clear of. The company offers lab-test kits that are sent to your home. You provide a sample also called a specimen) via detailed instructions explained in the kit. Most people find it to be surprisingly simple. Once completed, simply send it back to the company as directed. Testing for food allergies is something not readily offered by many companies. STAT Medical believes this is an important way for families to take charge of their health. There are food sensitivity tests, but finding out if you are allergic is so much more important. Knowing what to avoid can bring more peace to yourself and loved ones.

Understanding how food allergies work is helpful in figuring out if you are allergic to something specific. Food allergies consist of an immune system response to a disagreeable food. When a particular food is eaten, the body senses the protein in that food may be harmful and reacts by triggering an immune system response, producing histamine to protect itself. Once that has happened, the next time you consume that food the body remembers and the histamine response is more easily triggered.

Histamine is a chemical found in some of the body’s cells that causes many symptoms of allergies, such as a runny nose or sneezing. When a person is allergic to a particular substance, such as food or dust, the immune system goes after it with histamine. Histamine causes allergy symptoms such as hives, coughing and wheezing.

A food allergy comes from a reaction of the allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody that is found in the bloodstream. You can also have non-IgE-mediated food allergies. This happens when you are exposed to a particular food that can cause signs and symptoms of an allergy. A good example is peanuts. Some people are so sensitive to peanuts that just being near them can cause a reaction.

A food sensitivity is an adverse reaction to foods or food components, but not due to immunologic mechanisms. It’s important to know the difference as already stated. Allergies can be deadly while food sensitivity can be an annoyance.
IgE-mediated food allergies are the most common and dangerous when it comes to adverse food reactions. They cause your immune system to react abnormally when exposed to one or more specific foods. Immediate reactions to IgE-mediated food allergies are caused by an allergen-specific immunoglobulin E antibody that floats around in the bloodstream.

Sometimes IgE reacts to normal proteins that are found in foods. When the protein is absorbed during digestion and it enters the bloodstream, the entire body reacts as if the protein is a threat. That is why food allergy symptoms are noticeable in the skin, respiratory system, digestive system and circulatory system.

When you complete your test kit from STAT Medical, it is then sent to US BioTek Laboratories. The process is very thorough and checks a broad spectrum of suspect foods.

There are eight panels that are reviewed and each has rankings that include absent or non-detectable, very low, low, moderate, high, very high and a second very high category. The panels include dairy (alpha lactalbumin, beta lactoglobulin, casein, cheddar cheese, cow’s milk, goat’s cheese and goat’s milk), egg/meat/poultry (beef, chicken, chicken egg white, chicken egg yolk, ovalbumin egg white, ovomucoid egg white and pork), fish/crustacea/mollusk (blue mussel, cod, salmon, sardine pilchard, shrimp and tuna), fruits (apple, banana, lemon, orange, pineapple and strawberry), vegetables (carrot, tomato and white potato), miscellaneous (baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast and chocolate), grains/legumes/nuts (almond, barley, corn, gluten, hazelnut, oat, peanut, rice, rye, soybean, walnut and wheat) and CCD marker (cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants).

Each category in each of the panels is ranked from absent or non-detectable to very high. When you get your results from STAT Medical, it will explain in easy to understand terms what the findings are.

According to a 2014 comprehensive review published in “Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology,” the prevalence of food allergies in infancy is increasing and may affect up to 15-20 percent of infants. Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine suggest that food allergies affect as many as 6 percent of young children and 3-4 percent of adults. This alarming rate of increase is noteworthy and should make parents of children, as well as adults, work on prevention and treatment of food allergies.

That’s where STAT Medical can be very helpful. Figuring out if you have a food allergy can be life-changing and lifesaving and is as simple as giving a small blood sample and mailing back the test kit.

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