Food allergy and food intolerance are two different conditions that can have similar symptoms. It’s important to understand the difference between them so that you can manage your diet and symptoms appropriately.
Food allergy is an immune system response to a specific food protein. This means that when a person with a food allergy eats the allergenic food, their immune system overreacts and releases histamine and other chemicals that can cause symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening. Common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, wheat, and soy. Symptoms of a food allergy can include hives, swelling, itching, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting, and anaphylaxis.
Food intolerance, on the other hand, is a non-immunological response to certain foods that can cause digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea. Food intolerances can be caused by a variety of factors, including enzyme deficiencies, sensitivity to food additives, and reactions to naturally occurring compounds in foods. For example, lactose intolerance is a common food intolerance caused by a deficiency in the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products.
In summary, food allergy is an immune system response to a specific food protein, while food intolerance is a non-immunological response to certain foods that can cause digestive symptoms. If you suspect you have a food allergy or intolerance, it’s important to talk to your doctor and get a proper diagnosis. This will help you manage your diet and avoid potential health risks.