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Food Sensitivity

Food sensitivities are sometimes mistaken for food allergies, but the two problems are not the same.

If you are allergic to a food, your immune system reacts to that food as though it were a harmful substance.

Food sensitivities, on the other hand, usually result from the digestive system’s reaction to enzymes or proteins in food.

Food sensitivity: what you should know

  • Like food allergies, food sensitivities can be triggered by eating a small amount of food.
  • A history of one of these conditions might make you more likely to develop a food sensitivity:
  • Some food sensitivities are more widespread than others. For example, many people have lactose intolerance, which means they are missing an enzyme that helps digest a type of sugar found in cow’s milk.
  • Many others are sensitive to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten intolerance is often linked to celiac disease. Some people may not be able to tolerate gluten but do not have celiac disease.

How can I get help for food sensitivity?

These are some common signs of food sensitivity:

Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have a food sensitivity. Many other conditions have similar symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms and it does not go away, you should see your doctor.

Care for food sensitivity at Rush

Experts at Rush might use one or more of the following to determine which foods are causing your symptoms — and whether you have a food allergy or a food sensitivity:

  • Detailed medical history
  • Diagnostic tests: These might include blood tests, endoscopy or colonoscopy.
  • Elimination diet : You stop eating possible problem foods and then add them back into your diet one by one to find out which ones are causing you reactions
  • Percutaneous skin testing : Doctors place a small amount of the allergen on your skin and then prick the skin so that the substance seeps under the surface.
  • Patch testing : Doctors place a small amount of the suspected allergen directly on your skin.

Once you know which foods are causing your symptoms, doctors and dieticians at Rush will help you plan a healthy diet designed to reduce or eliminate your reactions. They may also prescribe medications to control some symptoms.

Why choose Rush for food sensitivity care

  • Food sensitivities often go underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Experts at Rush are committed to finding answers. At the Rush Celiac Disease and Food Sensitivity Clinic, experienced gastroenterologists, allergists and other experts work together to find the root of any food-related distress you may have.
  • At Rush you can see doctors and nurses who understand the needs of children with food allergies and sensitivities. They can work with you to create a plan for the school nurse or teachers to follow when your child has unintended exposure to the foods that trigger their allergic reactions.

Departments and programs that treat this condition