FACT: Food intolerances are different than food allergies.
Food intolerances involve the digestive system, while food allergies involve the immune system. Learn more about the differences below.
If you suspect you have a food allergy or intolerance, please see your doctor.
About food allergies
If you have a food allergy, your immune system overreacts to an allergen by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). A food allergy is defined as an IgE-mediated immune response to a protein in a food. Even eating a very small amount of the food can trigger a potentially life-threatening reaction.
People with food allergies are diagnosed by an allergist and prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector in case of a severe allergic reaction. The best way to stay safe is to avoid the food, in any amount, and to always carry an auto-injector.
About food intolerances
A person with a food intolerance has difficulty digesting a type of food. They may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, painful abdominal cramping, or diarrhea as well as potentially serious long-term health consequences.
Examples of food intolerance include celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and lactose intolerance. Celiac disease can be diagnosed by a physician using a blood test and often runs in families. Celiac disease may require an intestinal biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
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Check out our blog for other myths about:
- Cross-contamination can occur through saliva
- Hives are always present during an allergic reaction
- Someone who has been treated with an epinephrine auto-injector doesn’t necessarily need to go to the hospital
- Some allergies are more “severe” than others
- Eating a little allergen will increase tolerance and cure allergy
- Age requirement for allergy testing
- Cooking at high temperatures kills allergen proteins
- “May contain” allergen labelling is mandatory
- Results of skin prick tests indicate severity of allergy
- Pesticides and other chemicals can trigger allergies
- Epinephrine auto-injectors cure food allergy
- Which allergens cause life-threatening reactions
- Using Benadryl
- Food allergy “cures”
- Celiac disease is the same as a wheat allergy