What is the difference between a food intolerance and food allergy?

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A food allergy is defined as an immune system response to a food protein. A food intolerance is a digestive system response.

The problem is that food intolerance and food allergy symptoms can be similar causing many people to believe they have a food allergy without seeking proper testing or treatment. An intolerance to milk and other foods is much more common then a true food allergy.

With an intolerance, many individuals can consume the offending food in small amounts without reaction. If there is a reaction, it is typically limited to gastrointestinal symptoms rather than breathing troubles or constricted airways.

Some food allergy symptoms are: Nausea Rash of hives Stomach pain Diarrhea Itchy skin Shortness of breath Chest pain Swelling of the airways to the lungs Anaphylaxis

Some food intolerance symptoms are: Nausea Stomach Pain Gas, cramps, or bloating Vomiting Heartburn Diarrhea Headaches Irritability or nervousness

When there is the possibility of a food intolerance, it is sometimes helpful to keep a food and symptom diary or to try an elimination diet. When there is the possibility of a food allergy, the individual should refrain from eating the food in question until he or she can speak to an allergist and receive allergy testing.