Understanding the difference between food allergies and intolerances

Understanding the difference between food allergies and intolerances


food allergy



Regarding food sensitivities, “allergy” and “intolerance” are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing, and it’s essential to understand the difference. Food allergies are severe medical conditions that can cause life-threatening reactions. In contrast, food intolerances are generally less severe and can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. This article will explore the differences between food allergies, intolerances, joint symptoms, and treatment options.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an immune system response to a specific food protein. When a person with a food allergy eats the offending food, their body releases histamine and other chemicals, causing symptoms such as hives, itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, a food allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that can cause the airways to constrict and lead to shock. 의정부왁싱 

Common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, wheat, and soy. These foods can cause an allergic reaction in even a tiny amount, and even trace amounts can cause a reaction in some individuals.

What is food intolerance?

A food intolerance is a digestive system response to a specific food or ingredient. Unlike a food allergy, food intolerance does not involve the immune system. Instead, it occurs when the body cannot properly digest or absorb a particular food or ingredient. Specific food intolerances include lactose intolerance (inability to digest the sugar in milk), gluten intolerance (inability to digest the protein in wheat, barley, and rye), and FODMAP intolerance (inability to digest certain types of carbohydrates found in certain fruits, vegetables, and grains).

Symptoms of food intolerance can include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. These symptoms can occur within a few hours of eating the offending food but are generally less severe than those of a food allergy.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis of a food allergy or intolerance can be tricky, as symptoms can be similar and may be caused by other conditions. An allergist or immunologist can perform a skin prick or blood test to determine if a person has a food allergy. A doctor may recommend a food-elimination diet or a hydrogen breath test for food intolerance.

Treatment for a food allergy involves strictly avoiding the allergen and carrying an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen) in case of a severe reaction. Treatment for food intolerance involves avoiding the offending food or ingredient. In some cases, a person may tolerate small amounts of the food after a period of avoidance, or they may be able to consume the food in a cooked or processed form.


Understanding the difference between a food allergy and intolerance is essential, as they require different treatment approaches. If you suspect that you or a loved one has a food allergy or intolerance, you must see an allergist or doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. With correct management and adjustments, people with food allergies or intolerances can still enjoy various foods and live healthy lives.