Food intolerance is when people find difficulty in digesting certain foods and develop an unpleasant physical reaction to them. The condition can cause bloating and abdomen pain, usually after a few hours of eating the food. The number of people who think they might have a food intolerance has dramatically risen over recent years, but the exact number is unknown. Many believe they have a food intolerance when the actual cause of their symptoms is something else.
Food intolerance symptoms
People who have a food intolerance can experience:
The symptoms happen a few hours after eating the food, and it can be hard to figure the whether you have a food intolerance or these are symptoms related to other typical conditions.
Other possible reasons for the symptoms
If you experience regular diarrhea, abdomen pain, bloating, or skin rashes but are unsure of the cause, kindly consult a doctor.
The doctor will diagnose your symptoms along with your medical history. If necessary, the doctor will suggest blood tests.
Food intolerance symptoms are more similar to:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Anxiety disorder and stress
- Lactose intolerance
- Coeliac disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Food allergy
Food intolerance causes
Often, the reason for a person being sensitive to certain foods is unclear. It can be lactose intolerance if the symptoms happen after consuming dairy products, where the human body cannot digest lactose, the natural sugar in milk, soft cheeses, and yogurt. The doctor will diagnose lactose intolerance by considering your symptoms and medical history.
Some might have trouble digesting wheat, where they experience bloating, wind, diarrhea, sickness, and abdomen pain after eating bread; this can be wheat intolerance or wheat sensitivity.
But most often, the food additive or chemicals be the problem for food intolerance, like:
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Toxins, bacteria, viruses, or parasites
- Artificial food preservatives, colors, or flavor enhancers
When do you need a specialist?
The doctor will refer you to a specialist if they are unsure of the reasons behind your symptoms.
The doctor may also refer if your child has digestive symptoms and has,
- Not growing well
- Suspected food allergy
- Sudden severe reaction to a food
- Not responded to healthcare professional recommendations
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022