Differences between Allergy and Intolerance  

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Hidden Sources of Gluten

 In simplest terms, allergies effect the immune system and intolerances don't.


With conventional medicine, food and inhalant allergies can be diagnosed and treated. One test called the RAST test detects the presence of IgE. With allergies, the body produces the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE) which attacks the allergen and the body begins to release histamines. Allergic reactions typically come on fairly quick. Some reactions are include muscle cramps, inflammation-like process with redness and swelling of mucous membranes,  runny nose, sinusitis, earache, runny eyes, itching of the skin, eczema and shortness of breath.  Therefore making diagnosis much easier in the case of Allergies vs. Intolerances.


In contrast, Intolerances typically take much longer to effect the body and cause symptoms. This makes it harder to determine the offending substance. The following is a partial list of complaints/symptoms typical with Food Intolerances:

  • gastrointestinal complaints: stomach ache, irritable bowel, Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis
  • Skin complaints: itching, eczema, hives, acne (in adults)
  • Joint and muscle complaints: ranging from atypical pains to rheumatoid arthritis
  • Headache and migraine
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Asthma, chronic rhinitis or sinusitis
  • Pre-menstrual syndrome
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Depression, anxiety
  • Sleeping disorders

     Different people are effected different ways which typically leads to a very long diagnosis period. It is estimated here in the US it takes up to 10 years to properly diagnos a gluten intolerance.  Therefore many people continue to be mis-diagnosed for years taking perscriptions to manage symptoms but the only way to treat gluten intolerance is with a strick gluten free diet. Many people report feeling 'normal' again after removing gluten from their diet. As well as losing excess weight and getting 'good' sleep for the first time in years.  

     The best and easiest way to see if gluten might be what is effecting you is the elimination diet. A minimun of 2 weeks is recomended but at least a month is better. You will have to completely eliminate wheat and gluten from your diet for this to be effective. Review the page on Hidden Sources of Gluten and the information on the Gluten Free Diet and read labels carefully.

     Food manufactures are currently suppose to be stating on the label if the product contains any of the top 8 food allergies. Just because something states it is Wheat Free does not mean it is Gluten Free. Not all companies are complying with this requirement yet so it is best to call or write the manufacturer if you are not sure. Most are very willing to help and many have this information on their websites.

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