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Food intolerance | Diagnosis and treatment in Turkey

Increasingly, food intolerances manifest as digestive symptoms, often caused by intestinal irritation. Although they are similar to those of a food allergy, they differ in the absence of an immune response. Nevertheless, as with allergies, the management of food intolerance involves the more or less strict elimination of certain foods from the diet.

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Food intolerance vs food allergy: What's the difference?

Unlike food allergies, which involve an immune response, food intolerances result from difficulty digesting certain foods. The symptoms, while sometimes similar, are generally less severe and not life-threatening.

In an allergy, the immune system mistakenly attacks a specific component of the food, causing an often immediate and potentially serious reaction. Intolerance, on the other hand, does not mobilize the immune system and symptoms usually occur later, after digestion.

Treatment of food intolerance is based on accurate identification of the offending food(s). Medical follow-up and specific tests help to confirm the diagnosis. Eliminating or reducing consumption of the offending foods then becomes the key to relieving symptoms and improving quality of life.

Symptoms of food intolerance

While food allergies trigger an immediate and often acute immune response, food intolerances are more chronic and subtle. Symptoms, although varied, usually occur several hours after consumption of the offending food and may include:

  • Bloating and gas.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Skin rashes and itching.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Heartburn
  • Headache.
  • Irritability and tiredness.

The presence of these symptoms is not sufficient to confirm food intolerance. In fact, these symptoms may be associated with other digestive pathologies. An accurate diagnosis requires close collaboration with a physician and dietician, leading to in-depth investigations.

Diagnosis of food intolerance in Turkey

If a person suspects a link between the above symptoms and a particular food, it's important to consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Before consultation, it may be helpful to eat the suspected food several times (at intervals of several days) to confirm the association between the food and the symptoms experienced.

Except tests for lactose and gluten intolerance, there is no accurate, reliable medical test to diagnose food intolerance.

Lactose intolerance

To diagnose lactose intolerance in Turkey, patients can undergo the following tests:

  • Hydrogen test: This breath test measures the amount of hydrogen in the exhaled air. High production of hydrogen indicates inefficient digestion of lactose, suggesting intolerance. The test takes about 4 hours and is performed on an empty stomach by a healthcare professional.
  • Lactose tolerance test: This test measures blood glucose levels after ingesting a defined dose of lactose. If the glucose level does not rise, this indicates intolerance due to lactase deficiency.
  • Genetic test: This test analyzes DNA to identify a genetic predisposition to lactose intolerance. It is done with a simple buccal swab. However, it does not detect secondary lactase deficiency caused by infection, inflammatory bowel disease, or intestinal parasitosis.

Gluten intolerance

In case of symptoms suggesting gluten intolerance, a complementary examination can be performed by a gastroenterologist in Turkey. This includes:

  • Blood test: An initial blood test is done to check for gluten-specific antibodies.
  • Intestinal biopsy: If the blood test is positive, or if symptoms persist, biopsies of the small intestine can be taken by upper endoscopy (through the mouth) in adults without general anesthesia.
  • Genetic testing: Genetic testing can also be done to determine a genetic predisposition to celiac disease.

Don't hesitate to consult a doctor or dietitian if you suspect a food intolerance. A professional will be able to guide and assist you in implementing a personalized dietary strategy.

Food intolerance in children

An infant may have a food intolerance. If you notice any of the following signs, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Indigestion: Frequent vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, excessive gas, soft, foul-smelling stools.
  • Repeated colic.
  • Disturbed behavior: sadness, apathy.

Common food intolerances in children include:

  • Lactose intolerance: An inability to digest the sugar found in milk and dairy products.
  • Fructose intolerance: Difficulty digesting fructose, the sugar found in fruits and certain sweeteners.
  • Gluten intolerance: Unlike celiac disease, this is an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Chronic digestive disorders.

Managing food intolerance in Turkey

In Turkey, a variety of tests are available to identify food intolerances. The choice of test depends on your symptoms and medical history.

Turquie Santé offers a full range of services to help you understand and manage your food intolerances. Our team of healthcare professionals is on hand to support and advise you every step of the way.

With Turquie Santé, say goodbye to digestive symptoms and improve your quality of life!

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