If you have a food intolerance (to dairy or gluten, for example), the first symptoms you may have noticed were probably digestion-related. Did you know that food sensitivities can trigger other, non-digestion related symptoms? Here are a few other ways that a food intolerance may make itself known.

Headaches

People who are sensitive to MSG, coffee, tea, or chocolate often have headaches or migraines after consuming these foods. Because MSG is so widely used, it’s not always easy to identify by reading food labels. It’s helpful to keep a food diary. Record the food you eat and the resulting symptoms. I use this handy migraine tracker.

Nasal Allergies

Not all nasal allergies are caused by pollen. Some people who have food intolerances may develop a runny nose or a cough. Foods like fish or peanuts can accumulate histamines if not stored properly. A build up of histamines can cause not only a hive-like rash, but nasal allergies much like those many people experience during allergy season.

Skin Rash

A food intolerance may trigger a skin rash or hives. I experienced hives for years until I was diagnosed with an intolerance to certain food additives. Over the past twenty or thirty years there has been an increase in reactions to artificial preservatives, flavorings, and colors.

Brain Fog

Food intolerances can have subtle symptoms including a difficulty concentrating, a feeling of unease, or a uncharacteristically short temper. If these symptoms occur after you eat certain food,  they could be caused by a food intolerance.

Diagnosing a food intolerance isn’t easy, however. Even an examination by an allergy specialist may not result in a definite diagnosis. Food intolerances aren’t allergies, so tests are often inconclusive. The best way to identify a food intolerance is to keep a detailed list of everything you eat and drink, including medications, vitamins, and supplements. When you have a symptom, record it and take careful note of what you’ve recently consumed so you’ll start recognizing which foods and beverages to avoid.