Is it Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?

What’s the difference? Vets should know.

A food allergy occurs when a food you eat abnormally triggers your body’s immune system.

Food allergies can range from merely irritating to life-threatening.

Food intolerance” is different from a food allergy. Food intolerance is a reaction to a food that does not involve the body’s immune system.

VA’s My HealtheVet can guide you through the important distinctions in the two conditions.

Food allergy

Sometimes even a very small amount of a food can trigger such a response. The body may respond to the food allergen with such symptoms as digestive problems, hives or impaired airway.

In some cases, the reaction may be as extreme as to be life threatening, with a reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe whole body reaction to an allergen.

Food allergies can range from merely irritating to life-threatening.

Food intolerance

While the reaction may feel as if it is a food allergy, if the immune system is not responding, it is food intolerance. Sometimes it is an additive to a food item that may trigger the intolerance symptoms.

Symptoms and Reactions

Symptoms

Symptoms of allergic reactions are generally seen on the skin (hives,…

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