Are Food Allergies Really on the Rise?


Often our patients tell us they have been told they have food allergies. Maybe some used “allergy” as an excuse to avoid certain foods as a child. Sometimes patients have been put on very restrictive diets by various “health practitioners”. Foods can be blamed for all sorts of symptoms. It’s important to understand that a genuine food allergy is a different ball game to an “intolerance” (or just a “dislike”!). Let’s look at the facts.

Is it “I don’t like it” or “it doesn’t like me”?

There are 3 levels beyond food preferences. Say it gives you gas or indigestion… this is likely a “food sensitivity”, like spicy foods for some people.

But whoa!

You have diarrhoea and cramping when you eat a specific food? That can be a food intolerance, such as some people have with dairy products or lactose. If however, you can’t breathe, or your tongue swells, that’s an allergy or anaphylaxis and you need urgent medical attention! Foods that can cause anaphylaxis include nuts and shellfish.

Itching to get to the truth.

Frustrated by that rash that won’t go away? Well, a food allergy or intolerance may or may not be the cause of the rash. Whilst food allergies can show up as hives or red, itchy skin, there are also many other causes. Vitamin deficiencies and a wide range of medical conditions can also be the culprits. Sometimes the skin rash is due to an ingredient in a lotion, cosmetic, or supplement; and some people just have an “atopic” makeup which means they are prone to eczema, hay fever and asthma without obvious triggers.

Was it just a bad meal?

Before you vow that you will never eat that again – maybe you had a bad case of food poisoning? Did you know dodgy seafood is especially prone to developing toxins that trigger an immune reaction? In fact, many spoiled foods can cause a variety of unwanted symptoms. Ask your GP – maybe we need to test for food poisoning!

Ouch. Perhaps you’ve heard about the skin prick tests that allergy specialists do? How about a blood test for losing weight by identifying food sensitivities? Caution – don’t trust a Google search to diagnose your symptoms.

Food allergies are a prickly topic.

There are any number of tests like diagnostic breath testing, or stool testing (sending your poop to the lab) that can be performed to help you understand what is going on with your body. There are also many studies and articles that discuss the ingestion of certain foods such as tumeric or curcumin to help with a range of allergies.

However you need an experienced GP or Dietitian to narrow down the types of symptoms and tests that will help clear up your symptoms. They can be difficult to interpret, so call in an appointment with one of our GPs or our Dietitian Lizzie and enjoy healthy eating without worry.

Book an appointment or
cosmetic consult with us.

Richard Newton

Dr Richard Newton grew up in Warwickshire, England and went to University in Southampton, qualifying in medicine in 1991. Richard’s medical career has taken him around the world in a wide range of roles, from a ship’s Medical Officer on a frigate during the Balkans War, to rural General Practice on King Island, Tasmania. Richard has completed further Professional Development in Laser and Cosmetic Medicine, Skin Cancer Management, Sports Medicine and Internal Medicine.

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