Difference Between Food Allergy and Food Intolerance @ Reward Me

Difference Between Food Intolerance & Food Allergy

What is the difference between the two?

People often confuse allergies and intolerances. Understanding them clearly will help if you are concerned about a possible food-related problem in your own family.

Food allergy

  • An allergy is related to a reaction by the body’s immune system to a particular food.
  • Physical reactions develop quickly after a food has been eaten.
  • Symptoms of a reaction might include itching, rashes, swelling and redness around the mouth and in extreme cases breathing difficulties.
  • The smallest amount of a food might cause an allergic reaction.
  • A food allergy can be life-threatening and should be treated with urgent medical attention.
  • The food must be completely avoided.
  • A person with a serious allergy might be given portable treatment (eg an ‘Epi-Pen’) to keep with them at all times, to counter a reaction.

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Food intolerance

  • Physical reactions tend to be less intense and obvious – bloating or stomach pain a few hours after eating.
  • An intolerance is triggered by the body’s digestive system’s inability to efficiently break down something in a food that has been eaten.
  • Symptoms are not immediately life-threatening but can affect general well-being.
  • Because the reaction isn’t so quickly noticed, it can take a while to identify an intolerance. It is worth identifying a few possible causes, taking these out of the diet and then gradually adding them back in to see what happens. Consult a GP before cutting whole food groups out of a diet.
  • The food should be avoided but small amounts of it are unlikely to cause too much discomfort.

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