A food intolerance is something that can be uncomfortable and usually causes bloating, abdominal cramping, and/or diarrhea. The most well-known food intolerance is lactose intolerance; if you think of people who suffer from this, they usually have to run to the bathroom after having a lot of dairy. A food allergy is something that can be life-threatening. These are people who have hives, swelling, throat tightness, and/or shortness of breath after eating a food. It is a common misconception that food intolerances are allergies, when in fact they are not. Lactose intolerance can cause someone to be very uncomfortable, but will not be something that can potentially be fatal. There is great testing for food allergies, but there is unfortunately not great testing for food intolerances.
Author Ambka S. Ambka is a PA here at Allergy Asthma & Sinus Center of LI. She specializes in allergy and immunology conditions.