The Difference Between Allergies and Intolerances
Allergies and intolerances are conditions that can affect your daily life. An allergy is a reaction of your body’s immune system to a foreign substance, such as pollen, dust, pet dander, or food. Intolerance is a metabolic disorder that occurs when your body can’t digest a particular food or drink.
Depending on where you live, you could suffer from a number of environmental allergies. Allergies in Orlando, Florida, for example, include a lot of plant and tree allergies. Intolerances, however, can occur with any substance that eat or drink. Both allergies and intolerances can cause a wide variety of symptoms. If you think you might have an allergy or intolerance, it’s important to see a doctor. The doctor can help you identify the cause of your symptoms and recommend a treatment plan. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between allergies and intolerances.
What is the difference between allergies and intolerances?
There is a lot of overlap between allergies and intolerances, but there are some key differences. An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to a specific substance or allergen as if it were harmful. Intolerances, however, are not caused by the immune system but rather by the digestive system. People who have intolerances cannot properly digest a certain food or drink.
Another difference between allergies and intolerances is how they manifest in the body. When an allergic person comes into contact with the allergen, the body produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies attach to mast cells, which are located in tissues throughout the body. When the allergen contacts the IgE on the mast cell, it triggers the release of histamine and other chemicals. The chemicals cause inflammation and irritation. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary from mild to life-threatening.
Intolerances are different from allergies in that they do not involve the immune system. Intolerances are reactions to foods or beverages that occur because of how your body processes them. For example, you may be intolerant to lactose because your body does not produce enough of the enzyme needed to break down lactose sugar into glucose and galactose. As a result, eating dairy products can cause gas and diarrhea.
One of the main differences between allergies and intolerances is that allergies can be life-threatening. If someone with an allergy comes into contact with their allergen, they may experience life-threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a serious reaction that can lead to death if not treated quickly. Intolerances usually cause less serious symptoms and are not life-threatening.
Another key difference is that allergies are more common than intolerances. Up to 50 percent of people in developed countries have at least one allergy, while only around 5-10 percent of people have an intolerance.
Can allergies and intolerances be prevented?
Allergies are caused by the immune system when the body mistakes something like pollen or pet dander for a dangerous invader. When this happens, the immune system releases antibodies that cause all of the classic allergy symptoms, like sneezing, itching, and watery eyes. When you have an intolerance, your gastrointestinal system reacts to an item that your body cannot digest properly. Both allergies and intolerances can be prevented by avoiding contact with the offending substance. For example, people with pollen allergies should stay inside during allergy season and avoid going outside when it’s windy out. People with dairy intolerance should avoid eating dairy products altogether.
There are medications that can help with both allergies and intolerances. These medications can help counteract the natural process in your body and prevent a reaction. While this medication can be effective, there is no cure for allergies and intolerances. As a result, the best treatment is prevention and avoidance.
Overall, allergies and intolerances are both important to be aware of. However, intolerances are often more overlooked and can have more serious consequences. It is important to be able to distinguish between the two in order to get the correct diagnosis and treatment.