Food Allergies and Food Intolerances are often confused with each other but they have different symptoms, different causes and are treated differently.

If you think that you are suffering from a food allergy or food intolerance it is very important that you get a proper diagnosis as soon as possible so that you can start to manage your condition safely.

Food Allergy

A food allergy is your immune system responding negatively to something you have eaten.  It occurs when your body mistakes what you have eaten as harmful and starts to mount its defence system against it.  The substance in food that causes an allergic reaction in certain people is called an allergen; allergens are normally proteins.

Symptoms of Food Allergy

Symptoms which range from mild to severe can appear within minutes or several hours after someone has eaten the food they are allergic to.

  • Rash or Hives
  • Itchy Skin
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pains
  • Diarrhoea
  • Itchy or sore red eyes
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Dry itchy throat and tongue
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling of the tongue and throat
  • Swelling of the airways to the lungs
  • Anaphylaxis

A severe allergic reaction can result in loss of consciousness, drop in blood pressure or even death.

Food Intolerance

Food Intolerance is your digestive system responding to a food that has irritated it.  It occurs when your body is unable to properly digest or breakdown a particular type of food.  The most common food intolerance is to Lactose which is the sugar that is found in mammalian milk (including breast milk).  People who are lactose intolerant are deficient in an enzyme called lactase, this enzyme is essential for digesting lactose.

Watch Allergy UK’s “Food Intolerance vs Food Allergy” Video