Food allergy or intolerance is often incorrectly managed due to the similarities of their symptoms. There are certain differences between the two conditions that you should be familiar with.
What is food allergy?
Food allergy is basically a bodily reaction involving the immune system. This is triggered once the body wrongly identifies an ingredient in food, particularly protein as a threat and initiates a defense system to fight it.
An allergic reaction starts once the antibodies are currently fighting the food protein. The common foods that can trigger a reaction include nuts, shellfish, eggs, fish, milk and peanuts.
Indications of food allergy
- Hives or skin rashes
- Nausea and stomach cramps
- Itchy skin
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen airways to the lungs
A severe reaction or anaphylaxis is considered potentially fatal which involves a drop in the blood pressure, loss of consciousness and systemic bodily failure.
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerance is characterized as a digestive reaction instead of an immune system reaction. This occurs when something in food irritates the digestive system or when the individual is unable to properly digest or break down food. Lactose which is present in milk and other dairy products is the most common form.
Indications of food intolerance
- Stomach pain and abdominal cramps or bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Irritability or nervousness
Is this an allergy or intolerance?
A food allergy is usually triggered even with a minimal amount of food and can occur every time the individual consumes the food. Individuals with food allergy are advised to avoid the offending foods entirely.
As for those with food intolerance, the individual might not have symptoms unless he/she eats a large amount or eats the food frequently. An individual with lactose intolerance might be able to tolerate milk in coffee or in one glass of milk, but can become sick if he/she drinks several glasses of milk.
Food allergy or intolerance is different from food poisoning which occurs after eating spoiled or contaminated food and affects all those who ate the food. The doctor can help determine if the individual has food allergy or intolerance and come up with the ideal treatment plan to manage the symptoms.