Unit 3.3 Food intolerance

A food intolerance is a food sensitivity that is not an allergy. It does NOT involve the immune system. Symptoms of food intolerances vary, and are usually caused by an inability to digest or absorb certain foods or components of those foods.

An example is intolerance to dairy. It occurs in people who lack an enzyme called lactase, which is needed to digest a sugar found in milk (called lactose).

Foods which are more likely to cause allergies:

  • Milk and milk products
  • Peanuts and tree nuts
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Sesame seeds

Most common allergic reactions are hives, redness and rash. Other possible signs of food allergy include stuffy or runny nose with itchy, watery eyes, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea and eczema.

A severe allergic reaction is an anaphylactic reaction. The reaction can include:

  • Swelling of the mouth, tongue and throat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble swallowing, hoarse voice and trouble speaking
  • Pale or blue colour of the face or lips
  • Feeling faint, weak or passing out
  • Hives that are spreading

For each child with severe allergies, a treatment plan should be developed with the help of the parents and the family physician.

This is called an Emergency Care Plan.