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Food and environmental allergy reactions

Food and environmental allergy reactions

Are you suffering from a food allergy or food intolerance? 

There are two main types of reaction to food: immediate, or delayed.

An immediate reaction happens when a person often reacts quickly and violently to a food or substance.

Immediate reaction responses can include:

  • Itchy red eyes
  • Tingling, itching or swelling in the lips, tongue and mouth
  • Face or throat swelling
  • Difficulty swallowing and breathing
  • Wheezing, choking, breathlessness, noisy breathing
  • Metal taste in your mouth
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing or blocked nose
  • Fast and irregular heartbeat
  • Itchy body
  • Widespread rash on the skin (like nettle-rash)
  • Diarrhoea within an hour of eating
  • Confusion and anxiety

In extreme cases, foods and substances can cause an anaphylactic shock, which is a particularly severe and potentially life-threatening version of the reactions above.

In delayed response, the allergic reaction occurs a few hours or even days after eating the food.

Symptoms can include:-

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and indigestion
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Aching muscles and joints
  • Backache
  • Water retention (oedema)
  • Fatigue
  • Other symptoms include excessive hunger or thirst, twitching muscles, muscle cramps, restless legs, numbness, insomnia and excessive sleeping.

Interestingly, people are often sensitive to the foods that they eat most often.  These can include wheat products (breads, pasta, breakfast cereals etc), dairy, soya, gluten and eggs – which are all staple foods in the UK.

Allergy or Intolerance?

Allergies and intolerances to food can have some similar symptoms, but they have different causes.  An allergy is an immune system reaction in which the body treats a particular food as a dangerous invader; this may affect many different organs in the body.  In contrast, an intolerance tends to be more located in the digestive tract, where there may be a lack of enzymes, or a problem with the bowel itself.  Sometimes stress can bring on an intolerance to certain foods, though this may be temporary.  Another key difference is that where an extreme allergy can be life threatening, an intolerance usually is not.

The following illnesses have been associated with food intolerances:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases
  • Alcoholism


Emma uses various blood tests to determine food and environmental allergies, and food intolerances.  By either eliminating the culprit food/foods, or eating them only occasionally, symptoms should reduce or disappear.

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