FOOD intolerances and allergies occur when your body is sensitive to certain types of food such as wheat or dairy.
Whether it’s a little bit of brie or a chunk of cheddar, cheese can be a common culprit when it comes to allergies.
LloydsPharmacy pharmacist Pareena Patel said food intolerances are different to allergies.
Pareena comments: “Food intolerances are very common and often mean that you can have difficulty digesting certain foods.
“This can cause problems such as bloating and tummy pain, which will usually occur a few hours after eating the food.
“If you believe you have an intolerance it is recommended that you keep a food diary to try and decipher which food is causing the problem, so then you can try and eliminate this from your diet.”
Allergic reactions are caused when the immune system mistakes proteins found in food as a threat — and reactions can be fatal. Here’s what you should know.
What are the symptoms of a cheese allergy?
If you are allergic to cheese it is likely that you are allergic to all dairy products.
A number of symptoms can occur if an allergy sufferer eats cheese or comes into contact with it.
The immune system – the body’s defence against infection — mistakes proteins in the cheese for harmful substances.
It then releases a number of chemicals that lead to an allergic reaction.
The most dangerous reaction is anaphylaxis, which can be very sudden and debilitating.
Sufferers going through an anaphylactic shock will suffer heavy breathing, anxiety, rapid heart beat, light-headedness and unconsciousness.
Without immediate treatment it can be life-threatening.
The most common food-related allergy symptoms are:
- tingling or itching in the mouth
- a raised, itchy red rash
- swelling of the face, mouth, throat or other areas of the body
- difficulty swallowing
- wheezing or shortness of breath
- feeling dizzy and lightheaded
- feeling sick (nausea) or vomiting
- abdominal pain or diarrhoea
- hay fever-like symptoms, such as sneezing or itchy eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
Is it the same as lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose — a sugar found in dairy.
As opposed to an allergy, where the body tries to fight off lactose, an intolerance is a purely digestive problem.
It is caused when the body is unable to produce enough lactase, the enzyme which breaks down lactose, so it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance usually develop within a few hours of consuming food or drink that contains lactose.
They may include:
- bloated stomach
- stomach cramps and pains
- stomach rumbling
- feeling sick
Can you suddenly become allergic to cheese?
Most people who have food allergies develop them when they are infants and in some cases, they can outgrow them when they are adults.
It’s unusual to develop a cheese allergy later in life.
The NHS says that “most cases that develop in adults are inherited and tend to be lifelong.”
How do you know if you are allergic to cheese?
Allergies are usually identified at an early age, so if you are allergic to cheese you should probably know by now.
If you think you or your child has a food allergy, make an appointment with your GP.
They will ask you some questions about the pattern of your child’s symptoms, such as:
- How long did it take for the symptoms to start after exposure to the food?
- How long did the symptoms last?
- How severe were the symptoms?
- Is this the first time these symptoms have occurred? If not, how often have they occurred?
- What food was involved and how much of it did your child eat?
They’ll also want to know about your child’s medical history, such as:
- Do they have any other allergies or allergic conditions?
- Is there a history of allergies in the family?
- Was (or is) your child breastfed or bottle-fed?
If your GP suspects a food allergy, you may be referred to an allergy clinic or centre for testing.
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