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This week is Food Allergy and Intolerance Awareness week (23-29 January)

According to Allergy UK it is estimated that 45% of the UK adult population suffers with a food intolerance and 2% diagnosed with a food allergy. (http://www.allergyuk.org/news_foodallergyintolerance.aspx)

Allergy or Intolerance?

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe and may include rashes, nausea, shortness of breath, swelling, chest pain and anaphylaxis. Trigger foods, such as nuts and shellfish, cause an immune response and symptoms usually occur immediately or within 2 hours of eating. Foods that trigger an allergy have to be avoided for life.

A food intolerance is an adverse reaction to foods that can occur some time after the food is eaten and it is often undiagnosed. Symptoms of an intolerance can include headaches, stomach cramps, bloating, wind, nausea, diarrhea, skin conditions and fatigue.

If you suffer from these symptoms it is a good idea to keep a food diary to help identify trigger foods. Alternatively there are finger prick blood tests available, which can test for a reaction to over 200 foods. Once they have been identified, avoiding or reducing trigger foods can help alleviate symptoms.