Stanley Fineman, MD, of Atlanta Allergy & Asthma, answers a reader’s question about food allergies.
Is there a difference between food allergy and food intolerance?
A food allergy is caused by an immunologic reaction triggered by a protein, resulting in an allergic reaction. Symptoms can be rapid and include itchy mouth and throat, generalized hives, GI symptoms and breathing difficulty with loss of consciousness. Intolerance is not triggered by an allergic mechanism. GI reactions to the food or a component of the food usually cause them. A trained allergy specialist’s accurate diagnosis is important since such reactions may be life-threatening.