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Learning The Difference Between Food Allergies And Food Intolerances

Michelle Mirizzi • MS, Registered Dietitian • Feb 15, 2012

What is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?

People often confuse the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance. There is a difference. A child with an allergy must avoid the allergic food whereas a child with an intolerance may be able to eat small quantities without a problem.
Food allergies:
  • caused by the immune system when the body mistakenly identifies a food or a component of a food as a harmful substance and causes the child’s own antibodies to attack
  • starts a reaction of chemical changes that causes swelling and irritation in their body 
  • symptoms may include tingling in the mouth, hives, swelling in the lips or difficulty breathing
Food intolerances:
  • causes problems for children without involving the immune system
  • can take hours, days or sometimes weeks before the child experiences some problems/discomfort
  • makes their body have problems digesting certain foods causing sensitivity in their body
  • Lactose intolerance is an example of a food intolerance that is often confused with a food allergy. Lactose intolerance is when a child has trouble digesting milk sugar (called lactose) causing symptoms such as bloating and a stomach ache








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Written by Michelle MirizziWritten on Feb 15, 2012Last updated on Oct 29, 2013




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