Food allergy and food intolerance are totally different disorders. Some of the symptoms of food allergy and food intolerance are similar, but the differences between the two are very important.

A food intolerance means either the body can not properly digest the food that is eaten, or that a particular food might irritate the digestive system. Symptoms of food intolerance can include nausea, gas, cramps, belly pain, diarrhea, irritability, or headaches.

A food allergy happens when the body’s immune system, which normally fights infections, sees the food as an invader. This leads to an allergic reaction — an immune system response in which chemicals like histamine are released in the body. The reaction can cause symptoms like hives, vomiting, belly pain, throat tightness, hoarseness, coughing, breathing problems, or a drop in blood pressure.

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‘A food allergy happens when the immune reaction toward a specific food protein (allergen). Typically, the immune system goes for a toss when it detects a harmful substance. It does that by building up the antibodies. When someone gets a food allergy, their immune system picks out a specific protein as harmful and makes antibodies to fight it off. This leads to a range of symptoms, including skin rashes and breathing problems. The foods most ordinarily involved are egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts, sesame, fish, seafood, wheat and soy,’ says Dr Akash Shah, Consultant Pathologist at Neuberg Supratech Reference Laboratories.


Food intolerances are trouble digesting foods. Food intolerances occur due to the lack of an enzyme needed to digest certain foods or, sometimes, as a reaction to additives in foods. Individuals with food intolerances could also be able to eat small amounts of bothersome foods but once they have too much, their body reacts.


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