Food Allergies and intolerances

Food Allergies and intolerances

How can you develop a food allergy?

As adults, we are able to fight off potential serious diseases and harmful chemicals because of our mature immune system. Despite this, occasionally our body's defence mechanism tries to fight of something that is non-threatening and as a result we experience an allergic reaction.

If you're allergic to a food, your body will treat the food as though it's an invader and will make antibodies called IgE to fight it. If that food is eaten again, the antibodies will tell your immune system to release the chemical histamine to fight off the invader - and it's this release of histamine which causes all the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Food allergy vs. food intolerance

Allergies and intolerances are two quite different things; food allergy is an immunological reaction to food proteins, whereas food intolerance is a pharmacological reaction (like the side effects of a drug) to the chemicals in a food.

Common allergic reactions include:

  • hayfever
  • eczema
  • asthma

Intolerances can result in:

  • migraine
  • irritable bowel symptoms
  • behaviour problems

Allergic reactions tend to be swift; they usually occur within 30 minutes of exposure and are easy to recognise because the reaction is usually quite severe. By contrast, a food intolerance reaction can be delayed by 48 hours or more, making them more difficult to identify.


This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot. Sources include SA Government's Parenting and Child Health and Fed up with Food Additives.

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