Are Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities The Same Thing?
Many people don’t realize there is a difference between food allergies and food sensitivities/food intolerances. The difference lies in our body’s reaction to the foods we eat. Food allergies involve your immune system. Your immune system helps defend against things that could harm your body. When you eat something you’re allergic to, your body goes into fight mode and can cause a range of symptoms, such as:
anaphylaxis (throat closing)
Food allergies can be life-threatening, so it’s important to be aware of these allergies and know how to treat them.
Food sensitivities and food intolerances are usually not life-threatening. The response here is caused by the digestive system and usually happens because your body cannot properly break down the food you are eating. People with food sensitivities often experience symptoms, such as:
So, how do you know if you're allergic or just sensitive to certain foods? What do you do once you know?
When & why to see an allergist:
if you think you might have a food allergy
if you have limited your diet based on possible food allergies
for the best diagnosis as well as treatment/avoidance measures for food allergies
At the ENT Institute, we now offer food allergy testing with same-day appointments and customizable treatment you can take home!
Foods we test for:
- Chicken meat
- Whole wheat
With food allergies, the treatment option is simply to cut out whatever food you are allergic to. That’s the safest option! It’s also recommended to always keep self-injectable epinephrine with you.
For food sensitivities treatment is sometimes the same, but being that they aren’t life-threatening, you may just want to limit your amount of consumption.
Today, we live in a more progressive society than ever before. With more knowledge comes better solutions. There are now supplements and even ingredient-free options. For example, many people struggle with an intolerance to lactose. Instead of avoiding all foods that normally contain this ingredient, people have options. You can try lactase enzyme tablets or drops – take these tablets before a meal or add the drops in milk (or other dairy liquids), and their job is to help your body digest the lactose. You can also look for lactose-free items in your local grocery store.
Food allergies and food sensitivities can be tricky, but the biggest similarity is that they make your body feel bad. It’s important to be aware of these allergies and sensitivities to keep yourself safe, take proper care of your body, and be able to enjoy food at your leisure.
“Food Intolerance Versus Food Allergy: AAAAI.” Edited by Andrew Moore, The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
James T C Li, M.D. “Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance: What’s the Difference?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 3 Apr. 2020.
Schaefer, Anna. “Food Allergy vs. Sensitivity: What’s the Difference?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 4 Oct. 2018.