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"How do you tell the difference between a food allergy and food poisoning?"

ZocdocAnswersHow do you tell the difference between a food allergy and food poisoning?


Became ill after eating for the second time in two months and both times it was at a Chinese restaurant (different restaurants). Does this mean that I got food poisoning twice or is it more likely that I have a food allergy?


Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the body's immune system in which the body produces what is called an allergic, or IgE, antibody to a food. IgE, or immunoglobulin E, is a type of protein that works against a specific food. Allergic reactions to food can cause serious illness and sometimes death. Sometimes, a reaction to food is not an allergy at all but another type of reaction called food intolerance, which is more common than food allergy. Its symptoms may look and feel like those of a food allergy. Food intolerances may be to diary products as well as food additives such as MSG, which is commonly used in Chinese food. Food allergy symptoms could appear within 15 minutes after you eat until up to an hour after. The common food allergy symptoms include itching, swelling of the mouth, swelling of the throat, breathing problems, digestive problems, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain as well as hives, eczema, and asthma. On the other hand, food poisoning is a result of consuming food that was not fully cooked or is otherwise contaminated with bacteria. The symptoms can develop rapidly, within 30 minutes, or slowly, worsening over days to weeks. Most of the common contaminants cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever. Usually food poisoning is not serious and lasts 24-48 hours. If you suspect that you might have food allergy, the safest and most accurate way is that you get tested to confirm and need to seek the immediate attention of a primary care physician to get treated right away because food allergy could be potentially fatal, especially if you have the feeling of being unable to breath and a feeling of tightness in your chest.

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