Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Food allergy and intolerance

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Food allergy and food intolerance are both types of food sensitivity. When someone has a food allergy, their immune system reacts to a particular food as if it isn't safe. If someone has a severe food allergy, this can cause a life-threatening reaction.

Food intolerance doesn't involve the immune system and is generally not life-threatening. But if someone eats a food they are intolerant to, this could make them feel ill or affect their long-term health.

If you think you have a food allergy or intolerance, then it's important to get a proper diagnosis. Don't cut food groups out of your diet without medical advice, because you could miss out on important nutrients.

If you want to know when a food has been withdrawn or recalled because the allergy labelling is missing or incorrect or if there is any other food allergy risk, check out the Agency's Allergy Alerts page on food.gov.uk. You can also sign up for email or text alerts.

Buying food

What to look out for when you're shopping for someone with a food allergy or intolerance

Allergic reactions to food

The substance in a food that causes an allergic reaction in certain people is called an allergen. Allergens are normally proteins, and there is usually more than one kind of allergen in each food.

Most allergic reactions to food are mild, but sometimes they can be very serious. If someone has a food allergy they can react to just a tiny amount of the food they are sensitive to.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction

The symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary and the reactions can be more or less severe on different occasions. Even if you try very hard to avoid the food that you are sensitive to, you may still eat it by accident.

The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

* coughing
* dry, itchy throat and tongue
* itchy skin or rash
* nausea and feeling bloated
* diarrhoea and/or vomiting
* wheezing and shortness of breath
* swelling of the lips and throat
* runny or blocked nose
* sore, red and itchy eyes

Symptoms can appear within minutes, or up to several hours after someone has eaten the food they are allergic to. Generally, you won't experience all of these symptoms at the same time and bear in mind that some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction can also be symptoms of other illnesses.

Taken From : http://www.eatwell.gov.uk

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