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Facts about the difference between food allergy and intolerance

What’s the difference between food allergies and intolerances? This article gives comprehensive answers to this question. A food intolerance is different from food allergy. While a food allergy is involving an immune system response, food intolerance does not. A food intolerance implies that either the body is unable to digest the food eaten properly or that a certain food might cause the digestive system irritated. A food allergy occurs when the immune system of the body, that usually fight infections perceives the food as an invader. This results in an allergic reaction which is an immune system’s reaction in which chemicals such as histamine are discharged in the body.


The causes of food intolerance include the following:

1. An absence of an enzyme required to thoroughly digest a food. The common is the lactose intolerance.

2. Irritable bowel syndrome. Diarrhoea, constipation and cramping can be caused by this chronic condition.

3. Sensitivity to food additives. Some food additives also cause food intolerance ie. Sulfites normally utilized to preserve wine, canned foods and dried fruits can arouse asthma strikes in sensitive people.

4. psychological factors or recurring stress. At times, just a thought of certain food can make one sick.

5. Celiac disease. This disease has some food allergy features because the immune system is involved. However, its symptoms are normally gastrointestinal. What trigger this digestive condition include a protein in wheat and eating gluten.

The causes of food allergies include:

1. Pollen-food allergy syndrome. This condition is also referred to as oral allergy syndrome and it is common in people with hay fever. In this situation, some nuts, spices, vegetables or fresh fruits can cause an allergic reaction which makes the mouth to itch or tingle. It can even be very serious that it causes throat swelling or even anaphylaxis.

2. Most of the food allergies in adults are triggered by particular proteins founds in fish, tree nuts(pecans and walnuts), peanuts and shellfish(crab, lobster and shrimp).

3. In children, they are triggered commonly by proteins in soy, wheat, cow’s milk, eggs, tree nuts and peanuts.


The food amounts consumed and the onset of symptoms are the two very common features related to either a food intolerance or food allergy. The food allergy symptoms do appear shortly after the food consumption. Those of food intolerance, on the other hand, do appear later. In regards to the food amounts consumed, there is also a disparity. A person with a food allergy is totally unable to tolerate even small food amounts that he/she is allergic to. An exposure to even a tiny of it leads to a severe reaction. A person with food intolerance, on the other hand, can consume small amounts of food without experiencing an adverse reaction. People with a food allergy can even react if the food was cooked in a place with the allergen or when they enter an environment with the allergen present.


Food intolerance and food allergy have different symptoms. Research shows food allergies will commonly result in skin problems like the swelling, itching or hives. These skin problems imply that respiratory symptoms are also present. The gastrointestinal symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting. Food intolerance is associated with symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain or intestinal gas. the main symptoms are gut related but other symptoms may be experienced. Some symptoms of food intolerance and food allergy are similar and this makes it very difficult to establish an accurate diagnosis

Prevention and Treatment

People with food intolerance or allergy need to avoid that food. they need to check the ingredients for foods carefully whether when eating out or for home consumption. A person having a known allergy needs to carry epinephrine just for an emergency.
The treatment for food intolerance or allergy is different as explained below

Food allergy

People having an established allergy needs to carry an injector like the EpiPen that administers adrenaline or epinephrine in case of a severe-reaction. Two doses are recommended to carry. It has been established that about 20% of the food allergic people have a severe reaction.
Based on severity, anaphylaxis ranges from mild to life threatening. Sometimes the reaction is severe and mild on other occasions

Food intolerance

Managing food intolerance normally begins with an exclusion diet.this is where the person evades the food suspected to be causing the reaction, normally between 2-6 weeks. Thereafter, the reintroduction of food is effected and reactions are noted.
Sometimes, no reaction is experienced when the food is reintroduced. This means that small food amounts results in no harm or you have developed a resistance. The underlying problem needs to be established for this condition to be appropriately treated


Having a good understanding of the difference between food allergy and intolerance is very important for a better management of each condition. It is my sincere hope that this piece will be of great importance to you. It contains all that you need.

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