Food intolerance, however, is a reaction that occurs after someone has consumed foods that trigger the food intolerance, and is not an immune response. Food intolerances are far more common than food allergies, and there are many different kinds of food intolerances that can be associated with other conditions such as Celiac disease (which is an intolerance to gluten), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), asthma and chronic fatigue syndrome.
The New South Wales Food Authority defines the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance as:
“Food allergy and food intolerance are both types of food sensitivity and both can make you feel very ill. 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 allergies and food intolerances can cause serious health issues for someone who suffers from them, but if an allergy is triggered, it can be quickly become life threatening if the person with the allergy goes into anaphylactic shock, and a person experiencing anaphylactic shock needs immediate emergency care. There is more information on anaphylaxis at Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia.