Food Intolerance and Food Allergy | Blog | Sensitivity Check

Although they are often confused and often have some type of food abstinence adopted as a means of treatment, food intolerance and food allergy are different pathologies and require adverse care. In this article, Sensitivity Check will explain the differences between the two disorders, their causes, their symptoms, their consequences, the forms of diagnosis and their possible treatments. We believe that the right information is the first step in any recovery process. So, let’s get started, food intolerance or food allergy, what is the difference?

What is a food intolerance?

Food intolerance happens when the body, due to lack of an enzyme, is unable to process certain nutrients from some foods. The effects of the absence of such enzymes, which aid in digestion, are almost always restricted to the digestive system, more commonly, causing: gas, cramps, abdominal bloating, flatulence, heartburn, headaches, and general malaise. The onset of symptoms is gradual, it can take hours or even days to manifest. This depends on the amount of food ingested and their continued intake. Although persistent, the symptoms are not life-threatening.

What is a food allergy? 

Already the allergic reaction to food occurs when the body identifies specific proteins of some foods as enemy agents and, trying to defend itself against this threat, ends up attacking itself. Therefore, food allergy is a reaction involving the immune system, which usually happens immediately after consumption or contact with a particular food. Symptoms may involve all organs of the body: rash, urticaria, swelling and itching, watery eyes and sneezing, respiratory distress, a sudden drop in blood pressure, and the most dramatic consequence is food anaphylaxis, which can lead to death. Unlike food intolerance, the severity of food allergy symptoms does not depend on the amount of food to which it is exposed. what is the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy?

Diagnosis of Food Intolerances and Food Allergies

How to make the diagnosis and what is the treatment? Elimination diets are widely used in the diagnosis of food intolerance; at the outset, some foods are excluded and after all the symptoms of intolerance have disappeared, foods are slowly being reintroduced, assessing body reactions and consumption limits. In addition to the clinical history, in which the patient reports in detail to the physician his or her food history and together try to identify patterns and associations between the episodes of allergic crisis and the foods consumed, food allergies can be identified by means of oral provocation tests, consisting of supervised administration of food and / or placebo, in doses that are successively increased at regular intervals.


There is still no cure for food allergies. The best strategy, as pointed out by health professionals, is to avoid consumption and contact with allergens. There is, however, treatment with immunotherapy, which consists in administering the extract of the rejected food in increasing doses to induce a tolerance. It is a technique that can cause side effects, its application must be done exclusively in hospitals. Unlike food allergies, food intolerances do not prevent ingestion and contact with food not tolerated. Depending on the case, one can take a dose of the missing enzyme in the body before consuming the food. This ensures its digestion without symptoms.

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This article was written by Kate, our Lab Manager

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