Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance

During follow-up interviews, we ask if your child has any doctor-diagnosed food allergies. We also ask if they have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance. Food allergy and food intolerance seem similar, but there are a few key differences.

Food allergy:
When a child has a food allergy, they experience a sudden allergic reaction (skin or breathing problems, such as hives, swelling, itching, vomiting, cough or wheezing) soon after eating a particular food. The allergic reaction happens because a protein in the food causes an immune response in the body, and can occur even if the person eats only a small amount of the food. In some cases, the reaction can be severe or even-life threatening.

Food intolerance:
When a child has food intolerance, they gradually experience digestive problems, like abdominal pain or diarrhea, within a few hours after eating the food. These problems happen because the child has an enzyme deficiency, which means they are unable to properly digest that particular food. The reaction may only occur if the child eats a large amount of the food, or eats it often. Food intolerance reactions are rarely life-threatening.

Now you know the difference between food allergy and food intolerance. Click here for more information.