How to Tell the Difference Between Food Allergy and Food Intolerance


If you are experiencing symptoms and discomfort while eating certain foods, you might think that you are being allergic to them. However, if the symptoms are being mild, you are more likely to be intolerant to them. It is really important to differentiate these two conditions because the condition can be serious, even life-threatening.

Allergies usually affect more systems. Besides the gastrointestinal symptoms of discomfort and diarrhea, you might have problems breathing and acute lowering of your blood pressure. On the other hand, the intolerance usually affects the intestine, with bloating and watery stool.

If you are being allergic, you must avoid those products at all costs. However, if you are being intolerant, you can eat them, but you will be suffering the GIT consequences. To show you their differences better, we have made this article. Keep in mind that going to a doctor and testing yourself is important, so make sure you don’t drag out.

Manifestations of intolerance


Being intolerant to a certain food means that your body is not able to metabolite its ingredients. For example, if you are being lactose intolerant, your body cannot degrade these sugars because of the lack of lactase enzyme.

This leads to water retention in the intestine because of the osmotic balance, and gasses and cramps because of the fermentation. You can be intolerant of gluten in the same way, since you cannot metabolize it.

This includes a larger number of symptoms that include both the gastrointestinal system, as well as skin, musculoskeletal and more. However, with a replacement of enzymes or by avoiding these products, the symptoms go away, improving your lifestyle.

What happens when you are being allergic


If you are being allergic, it means that certain food particles indicate an immune response, especially involving immunoglobulin E. That means that your body excites and produces histamine with other mediators as well. They lead to multisystemic affection, gastrointestinal problems, as well as airway affection with trouble breathing.

The scariest condition is called anaphylaxis, and it leads to problems breathing, and acute lowering of your blood pressure. If not treated immediately, you can suffer great consequences, that can even lead to life-threatening situations.

Timeline of symptoms


There is a difference between these conditions in the time when they occur after ingesting something that irritates the body. If you are being intolerant, symptoms can be shown after a couple of hours. However, if you are being allergic to something, the symptoms show in 30minutes or less, and the severity can differ depending on the reaction.

Diagnose these conditions


Getting the proper diagnosis is of key importance in this situation. For that reason, you should visit a specialist doctor, and explain your symptoms as well as the meals you have eaten.

If the doctor suspects either of these conditions, many tests can be done for setting the proper diagnosis. You should do both allergy skin tests, and a food intolerance test to understand what is the cause of the symptoms you feel.



Depending on the condition besides avoiding those products, the treatments can vary. If you are being allergic, carrying an epinephrine injector is essential if you get an attack.

However, if you are being intolerant, you can take substitution enzymes, or probiotics that usually produce the enzyme you lack.