Food allergies and intolerances are two conditions which often get confused, but they are very different. Let me explain…
A food allergy involves a reaction by the immune system (aka the body’s defence mechanism) to a specific food which the majority of people can consume with no adverse effects.
If an individual had a food allergy then symptoms they could experience include:
- Body swelling – i.e. of their face or tongue
- A rash
- Itching – quite common areas include but are not limited to itching of the throat, mouth or ears. The area covered with a rash may also be itchy
Very severe allergies may result in anaphylaxis, where individuals experience a rapid fall in blood pressure as well as severe shock. This can be life – threatening.
Some common food allergies are:
- Peanut allergy
- Milk allergy
A food intolerance involves a difficulty digesting certain foods and having an unpleasant reaction to them.
If an individual had a food intolerance then symptoms they could experience include:
- Abdominal pain
- Increased wind
An example of a food intolerance is a lactose intolerance.
There are some major differences to remember in regards to whether you might have a food allergy or intolerance.
In summary a food allergy is a reaction involving your immune system and symptoms usually occur quickly. Allergic reactions can be mild or life – threatening.
In comparison a food intolerance does not involve your immune system and there is no allergic reaction. Symptoms usually appear more gradually and they are not life – threatening.
I hope you have found this blog post useful. Of course, if you ever think you have either a food allergy or intolerance consult your GP. According to the British Dietary Association (BDA) there are no intolerance tests which are supported by science, thus they cannot be 100% reliable but GPs, registered nutritionist and/or dieticians can still help. So, please still ask for further information from them if you need it!
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