Food Intolerance and Food Allergies

The terms food intolerance and food allergies are often confused with each other because some of the symptoms which occur can be similar.

Sometimes after having eaten a certain food you can feel ill because your body cannot properly process that particular food that does not necessarily mean that you are allergic to that food.

Skin Health Hub Food Allergies Food Intolerance and Food AllergiesSure, eating foods to which you are intolerant can make you feel miserable but the symptoms usually last for a few hours to up to 48 hours.

However, if you have a food allergy, the symptoms could be life-threatening. So you see; the difference between having a food intolerance and food allergies is quite different.

Food Intolerance

The most common symptoms in experiencing intolerance to a food are bloating and stomach cramps. These responses take place in the digestive system and they occur because the body is unable to digest or break down the food properly. This could be due to an enzyme deficiency or sensitivity to food additives.

The most common type of food intolerance is lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance means you cannot digest lactose which is the sugar found in dairy products. For some people, taking in a small quantity of the food can be tolerated and for others even a small amount can trigger a sensitive response.

Food intolerance is also difficult to diagnose and test and it is often associated with other digestive diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

Food Allergies

A food allergy on the other hand is a more serious condition as it involves immunologic reaction. The immune system controls how the body defends itself. For instance, if you are allergic to milk, your immune system thinks dairy is a bad substance and fights it by producing chemicals called histamines. Unlike food intolerance, food allergies can cause serious or life-threatening reaction just by eating a tiny amount or inhaling the allergen. A severe reaction is called anaphylaxis. This requires an immediate injection of the hormone called epinephrine.

Both food intolerance and food allergies share symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and nausea. As a basic guide, it is food intolerance if you are experiencing symptoms such as bloating, gas, heartburn, irritability and headaches. It is a food allergy when symptoms include itchy skin, rash, hives, chest pain, sudden drop in blood pressure, weak pulse, trouble swallowing or breathing and swelling of the tongue and throat.

Now you know that a bad reaction to a food is more likely to be food intolerance rather than a food allergy.

For more understanding on food intolerance and food allergies read our article on Common Food Allergies.

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