Medical professionals have medical terms to differentiate between different diseases or disorders. Individuals without medical knowledge often interchange the names of diseases with similar symptoms. 

But do you know that food allergy and food intolerance are two different terms and cannot be used interchangeably? If not, read further to understand more.

What Is Food Intolerance?

Food Intolerance refers to the adverse reaction caused by the digestive system leading to the inability to digest the said food or a particular ingredient in the food an individual consumes.

Common food intolerances are:

  1. Dairy
  2. Caffeine
  3. Gluten
  4. Fructose
  5. Salicylates
  6. Sulfites etc.

What Is a Food Allergy?

Unlike food intolerance, food allergies pertain to the immune system’s response to a particular food or an ingredient (allergen) digested by a person.

The human immune system protects the body from infections caused by foreign particles like bacteria, viruses, and other invaders. Some allergens that are not harmful can also trigger the immune system’s defense cells, leading to an adverse reaction causing mild or severe allergies. Thus, food intolerance and food allergies are different from each other.

On the detection of an allergen, the immune system produces molecules present in mast cells containing histamines and cytokines. These mast cells line up to protect the skin, eyes, nose, gut, and lungs from the harmless allergen. 

Food allergies cannot be considered an autoimmune disease because, in autoimmune, the immune system tries to destroy the foreign particle. In the case of an allergy it reacts adversely. 

Common food allergies are:

  1. Various nuts
  2. Soy
  3. Eggs
  4. Certain fish varieties
  5. Sesame seeds etc. 

Difference Between Food Intolerance and Food Allergy

Their symptoms can identify the difference between food intolerance and food allergy. Here is a chart for your reference:

Food Intolerance Food Allergy
Headaches Dizziness/ Fainting
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Tingling/ Itching Inside the Mouth
Runny Nose Nasal Congestion, Breathing Difficulties, Wheezing
Rashes/Hives Eczema
Unusual Bloating Swelling in the Face/ Other Body Parts
Stomach/ Bowel Pain Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting, Stomach Ache

A Few Other Details

Apart from common differences between food intolerance and food allergy, there are few other details that everyone should know about

What Is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe aversion that needs to be treated immediately by using an EpiPen or getting the individual medical help as it can lead to coma or death. 

A person suffering from anaphylaxis can be identified through the following symptoms:

  1. Gasping for air
  2. Lumps like sensation or swollen throat
  3. Going into shock
  4. Increasing pulse rate
  5. Unconsciousness

What Is Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac disease stands between food intolerance and food allergy. An adverse reaction of the immune system after the digestion of gluten products like wheat, rye, oats, barley, etc., leads to small finger-like projections within the bowel lining.  These projections stay inflamed until the body is free of any gluten affecting the bowel movements. 

A gluten-free diet is the only remedy to flatten these projections to enjoy proper digestion and comfortable bowel movement.

Here is how you can take your child with food allergies trick or treating.

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Ashley completed her degree with nutrition as her major. She loves sharing her knowledge with others and playing with words. After struggling for almost a year to find a job that could make her feel lively, she ended up as a freelance writer. Ashley writes health-related blogs and articles. She makes sure that her works always stand unique and are useful for everyone. Ashley is also a YouTuber who shares health-related videos. She knows the value of the right information and how it can be beneficial to others. Therefore, her only motto is to provide accurate information. If Ashley sounds like that neighbor who you can ask for health tips, take a look at her works.