Food allergies and food intolerances

Both are on the rise — and it's important to know the difference.

It's no fun to live in fear of food. If you can't tolerate certain foods, you probably dread the gastrointestinal distress they can cause. If you have a food allergy, the stakes are higher: a meal could end in a trip to the emergency room. Or, like many people, you could be uncertain whether your symptoms are due to an allergy (which requires eliminating all traces of the food from your diet) or an intolerance (which can be managed with less drastic measures). An analysis revealed that while 13% of adults described themselves as allergic to peanuts, milk, eggs, fish, or shellfish, only 3% truly were. Other studies have shown that undetected food allergies may play a role in several medical conditions.

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