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The Difference Between Allergy and Intolerance

Allergies and intolerances are often confused because they both cause negative reactions in the body triggered by foods or environmental factors.

We will discuss the difference between an allergy and an intolerance, so you can get to know your body better.

Main differences between an allergy and an intolerance

We’ve developed a simple table outlining the most important distinctions between allergies and intolerances. As you will see, allergies are more severe immune responses to triggers, whereas intolerances are caused by digestion issues.

Read on further for more in-depth insight into why allergies and intolerances are different, and how you can test for both at home.

Allergy

Immune system reaction

Immediate reaction - within minutes of trigger

Reaction is after small amount of trigger

Must avoid trigger completely

Can be life-threatening (anaphylaxis)

Symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, rash

Intolerance

Immune system reaction

Immediate reaction - within minutes of trigger

Reaction is after small amount of trigger

Must avoid trigger completely

Can be life-threatening (anaphylaxis)

Symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, rash

What is a food intolerance?

An intolerance is the body’s inability to digest an item properly, whether this is a food intolerance or an environmental factor (a non-food intolerance).

Intolerances can occur due to a number of reasons, the two most common are:

The body is lacking the necessary digestive enzymes(s) for a certain food and therefore cannot digest the item properly or efficiently take the nutrients from it. Many symptoms are the result of a sensitivity to a particular item. A sensitivity can occur from overconsumption or overexposure of an item.

Food intolerances are common and generate some uncomfortable symptoms including:

Bloating
Stomach pain.
Gas.
Nausea.
Diarrhoea.
Skin rash.

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Can you order a food intolerance test?

Yes. You can buy an at home food intolerance test which tests 63 common triggers for intolerances including cow’s milk, gluten, wheat and soy.

You will be sent the test to complete in the comfort of your own home. After a small prick of your finger, fill the blood spot card then send your sample back to our labs.

How does a food intolerance test work?

Using a small blood spot sample, your sample is tested in the lab using IgG4 as an identifier of non-immunological responses.

You’ll receive a PDF with your results within 7 days of us receiving your sample, outlining possible triggers for your intolerance symptoms.

After this, you can begin an elimination diet to observe the effects of removing suspected triggers to know for sure if the food item is causing symptoms.

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What is a food allergy?

In comparison to a food intolerance, an allergy can generate more severe reactions as a result of an immune response in the body.

Your body mistakes proteins in food as a threat and releases chemicals which generate unwanted symptoms.

Allergy symptoms include:

Rashes.
Difficulty swallowing or breathing.
Swelling of the throat or tongue.
Diarrhoea.
Vomiting.

In the most serious cases, an individual can have anaphylaxis which causes dizziness, difficulty breathing, fainting, and wheezing.

It is important to act fast if you believe someone might be experiencing anaphylaxis by calling 999 and using an adrenaline auto-injector if they have one. You can read more about what to do in the case of anaphylaxis on the NHS website.

If you experience allergy symptoms, it is recommended that you completely remove the trigger from your life – but what if you don’t know for sure what caused this reaction?

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How to get an allergy test?

You can order an allergy test online which tests for 35 common triggers in food, drink, and the environment,

You will be sent the test to complete in the comfort of your own home. After a small prick of your finger, fill the blood spot card then send your sample back to our labs

You’ll receive your results in a PDF format over email or text within 7 days of us receiving your sample.

How does an allergy test work?

Your small blood spot sample is tested for raised IgE (immunoglobulin E) antibodies which are a universally recognised indicator of an allergy.

You can read more about the science behind our intolerance and allergy tests.

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Still not sure if you have an allergy or an intolerance?

Considering there are overlapping symptoms for allergies and intolerances such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea, you might want to test for both. No problem! You can order an intolerance and allergy test combined, which tests against 35 common allergies and 75 food intolerances.

If you need further assistance in managing your food intolerance or allergy, or choosing which test to order, you can contact our 24/7 Livechat team.

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Best allergy test

Allergy Test

  • 35 allergies tested
  • (Food, drink & environment)

  • Blood spot sample
£74.00
£99.00
intolerance-test-kit

Sale

Intolerance Test

  • 63 intolerances tested
  • (Food & drink)

  • Blood spot sample
£87.00
£119.00
allergyintolerance-test-kit

Sale

Allergy & Intolerance Test

  • 35 allergies tested
  • 35 intolerances tested
  • Blood spot sample
£99.00
£135.00
allergy-test-kit

Most accurate test

Allergy & Intolerance Test Plus

  • 35 allergies tested
  • 75 intolerances tested
  • Blood spot sample
£135.00
£179.00
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