The Difference Between Allergy & Intolerance.

Allergies and intolerance’s, unless you or a loved one suffers with food related health issues such as these, you’re not likely to know the difference. For those that suffer, the confusion from others surrounding the differences can be frustrating.

Intolerance’s (also known as non-ige allergies) are usually caused by an enzyme deficiency or a reaction to naturally occurring chemicals in foods. Those who suffer with a food intolerance may be able to eat small amounts of the culprit food, some may not. Food intolerance’s do not pose a risk to life, but can make you very poorly. Reaction’s can occur up to 72 hours after consumption. There are no cures or treatments for food intolerance, eliminating problem foods from your diet will eliminate symptoms.

Symptoms of a food intolerance include –

  • Stomach cramps.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Eczema.
  • Bloating.
  • Lethargy.
  • Headaches.

Allergies on the other hand involve the immune system. When an allergen is consumed, the immune system reacts rapidly, releasing a number of chemicals. It is these chemicals that cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Almost any food can cause an allergic reaction but the top 14 allergens in the UK are –

  • Celery.
  • Cereals containing gluten.
  • Crustaceans.
  • Eggs.
  • Fish.
  • Lupin.
  • Milk.
  • Molluscs.
  • Mustard.
  • Nuts.
  • Peanuts.
  • Sesame seeds.
  • Soya.
  • Sulphur dioxide (sulphites).

In many cases, an allergic reaction is mild. But in some, the symptoms can be serious and could lead to anaphylaxis.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction include –

  • Hives.
  • Swelling.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.

If you are experiencing the above symptoms, be sure to take anti histamine. If the symptoms persist contact your doctor or if they develop into symptoms of anaphylaxis (listed below), call 999.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include –

  • Hives.
  • Swelling of throat or mouth.
  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking.
  • Abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.
  • Sudden feeling of weakness caused by a drop in blood pressure.
  • Breathing problems such as wheezing.

If you are experiencing some of the above symptoms and carry an adrenaline auto-injector, administer immediately before calling 999. If you do not carry adrenaline, be sure to contact 999 as soon as possible to receive the medical attention required.

The advice offered in this post is purely derived from experience. The opinion of a medical professional should always be sought.

For more information about allergies please visit the Allergy UK website.