Allergy or Intolerance?The difference between allergies and intolerances.
What you need to know.
Define an 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 the certain food and therefore cannot digest the item properly or efficiently take the nutrients from it. A sensitivity resulting from over-consumption or overexposure.
- Many symptoms are the result of a sensitivity to a particular item. A sensitivity can occur from overconsumption or overexposure of an item.
Allergy or Intolerance. What’s the difference?
In most cases, allergies are mainly hereditary and you have for life. An intolerance on the other hand can and does change depending on diet and lifestyle. You can work with your intolerances to reduce them and even eliminate them.
Allergies are detected by measuring the Immunoglobulin E count (IgE) in the blood, as these are specific blood cells that help to combat allergies. If you have an allergy to a particular food or non-food item, your body will begin to react the moment it comes into contact with it.
Common allergic reactions can include localised swelling (i.e. of the throat or tongue), a rash, or difficulty breathing. Peanut, shellfish, egg and soya are among some of the most common allergens.
By comparison, an intolerance is not as severe and immediate as an allergy. These symptoms come on gradually; anything from 30 minutes up to a 48 hours later. These symptoms might include headaches, bloating, localised itching or skin irritations such as eczema, excessive mucous production, excessive gas, diarrhoea, and fatigue.
The most common method of diagnosing allergies is with a simple blood test, usually testing the IgE or IgG levels in the blood. IgE allergies are immediate responses to a foreign substance that has entered the body. These foreign substances can come from food or can come from inhalation. IgE allergies can cause very serious symptoms like difficulty breathing, swelling, and hives. In even more serious cases IgE reactions can lead to anaphylactic shock.
IgG4 food sensitivities are generally less severe than IgE food sensitivities and typical symptoms can include; headaches and nausea, seizures and hyperactivity. These may occur hours or even days after the offending food has been ingested. The degree and severity of symptoms vary because of the genetic makeup of the individual. IgG4 food sensitivities are generally treated by removing problem foods from the diet and by helping digestion with probiotics.