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Food Allergy vs. Food Sensitivity

With increasing interest in physical reaction to foods, many do not understand the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity.

Food Allergy

A food allergy is an actual allergic response by your body carried out by the immune system in response to the food, such as hives or difficulty breathing. Common sources of food allergies are nuts, shellfish, and certain fruit. These allergies can be life-threatening and should be managed with total food avoidance, and in the case of accidental exposure, medications to treat the allergic reaction.

Food Sensitivity

A food sensitivity on the other hand is a more nuanced response to certain foods that many people experience. Has a certain alcoholic beverage, dessert, or other food given you frequent and expected negative symptoms like headaches, digestive issues, or moderate inflammation? This could be a food sensitivity that you could better manage.

Food sensitivity testing and food allergy testing are carried out in much different ways. A food allergy test is typically administered via the placement of small portions of foods on tissue , usually into the skin, to watch for immune system responses. This is always carried out by a physician due to the risk of extreme reactions to various foods.

Food sensitivity tests vary but the one provided by EverlyWell involves using a small blood sample and watching for a common antibody -- Immunoglobin G -- that your body uses to surround and isolate what your blood considers foreign. Our lab test checks for 96 different common food sensitivities and rates them from no sensitivity to high with your test results. This allows you to better understand how your own body responds to various foods and adjust eating habits accordingly.

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