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Food Intolerance & Allergies

How does your diet affect you?

Do you think your ongoing and troubling digestive issues may be caused by something in your diet?

You are not alone! At Lee Health, we’re seeing a growing number of patients with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and other food sensitivities.

Our team of doctors, dietitians, and other clinicians work together to help you distinguish between a food intolerance and a true food allergy.

A severe a reaction to certain foods — such as vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, hives, itchy mouth or throat, or difficulty swallowing or breathing — can be frightening.

Smaller reactions such as bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea aren’t fun, either. Whatever your symptoms, our experts will identify the problem and recommend long-term plans to help you manage your diet and take control of your health.

We also care for patients whose bodies cannot properly absorb nutrients from food because of complex medical conditions like small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and short bowel syndrome.

Food allergies versus food intolerance

Characteristics of food intolerance:

  • Eating the offending food triggers digestive problems instead of an immune system response. Symptoms tend to come on more gradually and may not appear unless the food is eaten regularly or in large amounts.
  • Symptoms are primarily gastrointestinal and include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea and heartburn. Some people with food intolerance also develop symptoms such as headaches and fatigue.
  • Food intolerance is not life-threatening.

Conditions we manage

Lee Health gastroenterologists have extensive experience diagnosing and treating food allergies and sensitivities, including:

  • Celiac disease, a digestive and autoimmune disorder in which eating gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye and barley — causes damage to the small intestine. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, it triggers an immune system response; however, celiac disease is not considered an allergy because it cannot cause anaphylaxis.
  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, also known as gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity.
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Sensitivity to sulfites or other food additives, such as MSG.
  • Common allergic food reactions including soy, wheat, cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.

Our doctors also manage malabsorption, which occurs when the body cannot absorb essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins. Malabsorption is often caused by a related gastrointestinal disorder, including:

  • Crohn's disease
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Small bowel bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)