Allergies and intolerances: what are they?

Allergies and intolerances: what are they?

There is still much confusion about the differences between allergies and intolerances, that often cause serious impediments the former and sometimes underestimated, if not ignored, the latter.

We try to explain a bit better what they are.

Food allergy is an immune reaction to the ingestion of a specific food (or of some substances contained in it). This reaction is expressed at the first contact through the formation of specific antibodies called IgE. The antibodies, as we well know, protect the body against foreign objects, or at least from what our body can recognize as foreign, as in the case of diseases due to viruses and bacteria.

Even in food allergies this happens and the meeting between the food to which you are allergic and antibodies generates HISTAMINE production which is at the same time what causes the symptoms that make us suffer so much. In many cases these symptoms are instantaneous because the first reactions you may already have is in the mouth immediately after “harmful” food’s ingestion (itching, swelling) but are not also rare stomach and intestinal symptoms that are observed at a later time (nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, flatulence). Also the respiratory system and the skin may be the scene of annoying symptoms such as itching, bruises, asthma and rhinitis, often accompanied by headache.

As well as are various symptoms, are also various intensities switching from simple discomfort in situations which require a trip to the hospital or injections and in these cases we speak of anaphylactic shock. They should never be underestimated because they are often unpredictable and can even lead to death.


The symptoms of Food Intolerance are generally more mild and may occur even after a long time from ingestion, a factor that makes it increasingly difficult to recognize them and relate them to a specific food. In fact in this case it is not only the food directly to trigger the reaction but may also be due to dysfunction of digestion as in the case of enzymatic intolerances and drugs intolerances.

Since the symptoms are very similar and comparable to those of allergies and having different times, as mentioned earlier, this makes it difficult to determine which is actually the food accused of disorders. In these cases there isn’t an involvement of the immune system which then will not release antibodies and therefore histamine.

In future articles we will see in more detail these topics.

Stay tuned

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