What Is The Difference Between A Food Allergy And A Food Intolerance?

It is much more common for a person to have a food intolerance rather than a food allergy.  True food allergies can be a life threatening problem.  A food intolerance can be very unpleasant, but is usually not fatal.

With a food allergy a very small amount of the suspect food can trigger an allergic reaction.  With a food intolerance you may be able to eat a small amount of the suspect food with little or no problems.

Both a food allergy and food intolerance can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and nausea.

A food allergy will trigger a response as soon as it is eaten.  Symptoms will appear every time you eat this particular food.  It will  not matter how small the portion you eat, you’ll have an allergic reaction to even a tiny amount.

Symptoms of food allergy may include shortness of breath, flushing of skin, itchy skin or a rash or hives, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness and in severe cases an allergic reaction can cause life threatening anaphylaxis.

Symptoms of food intolerance will likely come on sometime after  you have eaten the suspect food.  It will not happen immediately after eating.  Symptoms may only happen if you eat a lot of the suspect food or eat it often.  The food intolerance symptoms can include heartburn, headache, bloating, gas or cramps.

You are unable to digest something in a food when you have a food intolerance.  This may be caused by an enzyme deficiency which prevents the food from being properly digested.  Sometimes the food intolerance can be the result of additives in a food or certain chemicals in a food.

A food allergy is the result of an immune response and not an enzyme deficiency like a food intolerance.  When your immune system thinks something in a food is harmful to your body it will attack it.  This attack by the immune system can affect your entire body. Some of the common foods which cause allergic reactions include:  fish, eggs, peanuts, wheat, shellfish, milk, soy, walnuts, pecans and almonds.

Foods which may cause intolerance include:  milk, processed meats, cabbage, beans, citrus fruit, wheat, and other gluten products.

Lactose intolerance is common.  Some people are not able to digest the sugar in milk and dairy which is the lactose.  There are lactose free dairy products available.

If  you have a food allergy you will need to stay away from that food entirely. If you have a food intolerance you will need to know how much you can eat of that food before it will cause a problem or you can eliminate the food from your diet.

To prevent adverse symptoms from either a food intolerance or food allergy you will need to check  food labels and check how food is prepared in a restaurant to be sure the food does not contain the substance to which you react badly.

Consult  your health care professional to determine whether you have a food allergy or food intolerance.