Food Sensitivity 

A food sensitivity reaction (food intolerance) occurs if you eat foods that your body can't digest properly. Food intolerance is often confused with a food allergy. Intolerance is often from a lack of specific digestive enzymes that break down food. But, there can be other reasons that you might not tolerate a food. Food sensitivity is not an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction is an immune system response. Instead, an ingredient or substance in the food causes an irritation of the digestive system. 

Symptoms may start within a few hours after eating. Symptoms include bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, or excess gas. This illness usually is over within 6 to 24 hours. Simple home treatment will be helpful. Foods that commonly cause this include:

  • Milk and dairy products (cheese, yogurt and sour cream), because of a lactose intolerance. Some people who are lactose intolerant may be able to tolerate yogurt and some hard cheeses.

  • MSG, a common additive in Chinese cooking

  • Peas, broccoli, and mushrooms

  • Wheat, rye, and barley, because of gluten intolerance

Home care

The following will help you care for yourself at home:

  • If symptoms are severe, rest at home for the next 24 hours.

  • Don't use tobacco or alcohol. These can make symptoms worse.

  • Start with a clear liquid diet, taking small amounts often. Avoid dehydration by drinking 6 to 8 glasses of fluid per day. This can include water, sport drinks, soft drinks without caffeine, juices, tea, and soup. Gradually resume a normal diet as you start to feel better.

  • In the future, don't eat the foods that caused your reaction. If you are not sure what caused it and you want to find out, cut out all suspected foods. Keeping a food diary may help you figure this out. Add suspected foods back into your diet in small amounts, one at a time, until you have another reaction.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised, if you are not getting better over the next 2 to 3 days.

Call 911

Call 911 if you have any of these:

  • Hard time breathing

  • Confusion

  • Drowsiness or trouble awakening

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Vomiting blood, or large amounts of blood in stool

  • Seizure

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Severe constant lower right belly pain

  • Vomiting that won't stop (unable to keep liquids down)

  • Excessive diarrhea

  • Blood or mucus in your diarrhea

  • Weakness or dizziness

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