When I tell people about Monkey's allergies they quite often tell me that they know someone who is intolerant to whatever. And whilst I'm sure that's horrible and can lead to them being very uncomfortable, it's not quite the same thing.
So today I is for intolerance. How is it different to an allergy? How do you know which you've got?
To understand the difference between an allergy and an intolerance, you really need to be clear about what an allergy actually is.
According to Allergy UK a true food allergy will always involve the immune system. There are two kinds of allergy and this is where it gets confusing.
IgE allergies happen when the immune system releases specific IgE antibodies in an attempt to defend the body from an allergen. Symptoms develop quickly and can be severe and life-threatening. Anaphylaxis is the most severe kind of IgE reaction and requires immediate hospital attention.
Non-IgE allergies are were the confusion occurs. These used to be referred to as intolerances and sometimes still are although this incorrect. They are now recognised as true allergies as whilst they don't release the specific antibodies they do involve the immune system. Symptoms are nore delayed - usually from an hour to three days. Non-IgE allergies are harder to diagnose as they don't show up on blood or skin prick tests.
Monkey has a mix of IgE and non-IgE reactions.
Intolerances do not involve the immune system. Symptoms are often delayed and usually gut type problems. They are not life-threatening but can lead to sufferers feeling very uncomfortable. Unlike allergies, many sufferers can eat problem foods in small amounts - it is when they get a build up that they have problems. Apart from lactose intolerance there is no test available for food intolerances.
Working out whether you have a food intolerance or allergy can be tricky. Many doctors suggest keeping a food and symptoms diary which is something that we still do with Monkey.