Is allergy the same as intolerance?
No, there is one major difference between allergy and intolerance. Food allergies cause the immune defences to react violently to harmless foodstuffs. The body perceives allergens in food as being alien and this triggers an immune reaction. The most severe consequence is allergic reaction to the point of allergic shock. The reaction of the body becomes noticeable through skin irritation, swelling, itchiness in the mouth or neck, nausea and vomiting. The most serious consequence is acute overreaction in the form of shock that must be treated immediately. Triggers of allergic reactions can be found in a number of food products, such as milk, eggs, soya, fish, wheat, celery, mustard and nuts.
Food intolerances affect the body's metabolism, but not its immune system. The symptoms are similar to those caused by a food allergy but there is no risk of allergic shock. There is however a number of non-allergic intolerance reactions that induce different symptoms for the people affected. An example: The enzyme necessary to reduce a nutrient is lacking or is inactive. The consequence is an irregular metabolism whereby the body can not digest, or can only partially digest, food. This is commonly the reason for flatulence, pain in the gastrointestinal tract, constipation and diarrhoea. An intolerance normally means small amounts of a food product can continue to be consumed. Avoiding or reducing the food or ingredient in question means the symptoms disappear quickly, allowing a life without this complaint.