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Allergy or intolerance?

Food allergy and food intolerance are both types of food sensitivity and both can make you feel very ill, but there are important differences.

If you have a food allergy this means your immune system reacts to a particular food and causes immediate symptoms, such as itchiness, rash and swelling. Sometimes this reaction can be so severe that it can trigger a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Food intolerance however doesn’t involve the immune system. Instead, food intolerance is actually an adverse reaction to a particular food.

The symptoms can be unpleasant and in some cases severe but are generally not life-threatening.

Food intolerance is even more common than food allergy. Up to 25% of the population believe they have some sort of food intolerance.


Food allergy = an immune system reaction to a food
Food intolerance = an inability to digest a food.