The difference between an allergy and intolerance:

Food Allergy

  • Occurs when the immune system reacts to a certain food
  • The body creates immunoglobin E (IgE)
  • When these antibodies react with food the body releases massive amounts of chemicals and histamines to protect the body – causing a number of symptoms of an allergic reaction

Food Intolerance

  • Is an adverse food-induced reaction that does not involve the immune system
  • E.g. Lactose Intolerance – in which the person lacks an enzyme that is needed to digest the milk sugar (lactose) – symptoms include gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea

Common Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

  • Tingling sensation in the mouth
  • Swelling of the tongue and throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Wheezing and coughing and difficulty breathing
  • Hives / rashes
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Drop in blood pressure – feeling faint
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

Allergic reaction symptoms…

  • usually appear within minutes or up to 2 hours after consuming
  • not all symptoms need to be present
  • don’t appear in any particular order
  • no two reactions are the same


  • Two forms of diagnosis if suspected of allergies:

Skin Testing

  • Suspected allergens are injected into skin and reactions are evaluated and diagnosed.

Blood Testing

  • measures a “total IgE level” and is determined through the use of radiometric.
  • Uses anti-IgE antibodies with radioactive isotopes for quantifying the levels of IgE antibody in the blood.


  • strict avoidance to allergy causing food is key
  • read ingredient labels for all foods – if the product doesn’t have a label than the allergic person shouldn’t eat it
  • Antihistamines- [Loratadine (Claritin)] block receptor sites for IgE antibody.
  • Cortisone- Reduce swelling from rashes, hives, swelling etc.

  • Vaccination- Gradual increases of allergen is introduced into blood stream to reduce hypersensitivity.
  • Epinephrine- (Epipen) suppresses the immune system and release of IgE antibodies.

Is there a cure for food allergies?

  • Currently there are no medications that cure allergies
  • Strict avoidance is the only way to avoid a reaction

Top 8 Allergy-Causing Foods

  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Dairy products
  • Wheat


It is the most severe and life threatening type of allergic reaction.  It can happen within minutes after eating or smelling a food.  Symptoms may include hives, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness.

An epi-pen (which is filled with an adrenaline called epinephrine) can help prolong the time a person has before they MUST immediately receive medical attention.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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