Food intolerance or allergy: what are the differences?

After a meal, you suddenly stomach ache? Hives? Your lips swell? This is an allergy or food intolerance, the first being much more serious than the second. Must still be able to differentiate.

Allergy and food intolerance are different in their biological mechanisms, but they are sometimes confused because of some common symptoms such as hives, angioedema (severe swelling of the face and body to be treated with cortisone) or disorders of transit …

What differentiates them from the outsetis their time of onset. It is also their severity, higher in allergy.

FOOD INTOLERANCE DOES NOT PRESENT A RISK TO LIFE

Some events are specific to food allergy. This is Asthma, rhinitis, itchy palate, and even anaphylactic shock should be treated urgently. Attention, all these signs do not necessarily appear together in a person. And most importantly, food allergy is unusual to occur very rapidly, a few minutes to two hours after ingestion of the offending food. The most common examples: fish, shellfish, eggs, peanuts, milk and some fruits such as bananas or strawberries.

Food intolerances are not life threatening. Their time of onset is often less than six hours after the consumption of various foods, from strawberries to dairy products through the molds or certain preservatives such as tartrazine.

DIFFERENT MECHANISMS IN ALLERGY AND FOOD INTOLERANCE

In allergy, there is an abnormal stimulation of the immune system: one “overreacts” vis-à-vis certain ingested substances, and usually harmless. A substance called histamine is then released in response to the penetration of body proteins from food allergens. Allergies often occur in the same family, and people allergic to certain foods may also be allergic to other environmental factors such as dust, fur and pollen.

In food intolerance, there may be several phenomena. Or is ingested in excessive amounts of foods containing pharmacologically active substances such as histamine (fish, tomatoes, sausage, fermented foods …) or tyramine (chocolate, white wine, cheese …). Either some people are sensitized from birth to dairy products, bread, tomatoes, potatoes … without their knowledge. Originally, there is often a lack of certain digestive enzymes, such as lactase, which digests milk. In general, it is in adulthood that food intolerance is triggered abruptly.

WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF INTOLERANCE OR FOOD ALLERGY?

If in doubt, consult an allergist who will make the part of the intolerance and true allergy. For the latter, the only treatment is strict avoidance of the offending food (beware of hidden forms, case of peanut, egg …). Knowing that ingestion of even small amount of food can be enough to trigger the allergic storm.

For food intolerances, the quantitative factor plays a role. It will, for example, avoid combining in the same meal rich in histamine and histamine releasing foods.

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