Posted by: Indonesian Children | June 12, 2009

What Is The Difference Between Food Allergy And Food Intolerance?

Most people can eat a wide range of food without any problems. But there is a small group of people allergic to particular foods or ingredients in foods. The allergic reaction can range from minor skin irritations to serious allergic shocks.

An allergy means that a person’s immune system shows an excessive defence reaction to substances which in themselves are harmless – it has “forgotten” how to distinguish between harmful and harmless substances.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction vary considerably. The most frequent complaints occur shortly after eating, either in the form of prickling or swelling in the mouth or throat, or as a skin rash.

Allergic reactions in the gastro-intestinal tract, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation, occur in relatively few cases.

More seldom still are shock reactions (anaphylactic shock). These can bring about circulatory failure, which must be treated immediately by a doctor.

A food allergy is one thing – a food intolerance is another. A food intolerance can produce symptoms very much like those of food allergy, but the immune system is not involved in these reactions in the same way. If you have a food intolerance, your body is unable to digest a certain kind of food or some ingredient in a food, e.g. because the required enzyme is absent or inactive.

Since the digestive system is involved in most cases, the principal symptoms of food intolerance (such as lactose intolerance – link to the same topic) are flatulence, gastro-intestinal pains and diarrhoea. Allergies and food intolerances can appear in many different degrees of severity.

Under certain circumstances it is urgently advisable to consult a doctor specialised in allergology, who will be able to determine the exact causes and draw up an individual diet plan together with a dietitian.

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Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. You should carefully read all product packaging. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

Copyright © 2009, Children Allergy Clinic Information Education Network. All rights reserved.


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