If you notice that you aren’t feeling well after eating a certain food, this could be nothing, or it could mean a bigger issue that indicates a food sensitivity or even allergy. It is important to distinguish between the two.

Here are some differences between having food sensitivities and food allergies.

Severity Of Reactions

The biggest difference between a food sensitivity and a food allergy would involve the severity of your reactions and how dangerous certain foods are to certain individuals. Allergies are often more serious when it comes to exposure to foods, as certain food could produce a severe allergic reaction that would lead to hospitalization, and in some cases death. Food intolerance or sensitivity may have a milder reaction, such as trouble with digestion, nausea, constipation, stomach pain, diarrhea, or severe heartburn, and leave you feeling ill for an extended amount of time. Allergies also have symptoms that arise in other forms, such as skin appearance in the form of dermatitis, hives, or eczema. As mentioned, severity increases in those with allergies, which could lead to changes in blood pressure, swelling and closing of the throat and mouth, dizziness, trouble breathing, and anaphylaxis. Some food sensitivities may be combated with over-the-counter drugs that help you better digest certain foods or prevent minor reactions. Because someone has a reaction to certain foods, people will often associate allergies and sensitivities together.


When you are looking at differences between sensitivities and allergies, one factor is the reaction to specific types of exposure. Food sensitivities are often tied with the consumption of certain foods like dairy or gluten. However, there is little to no reaction when food is not consumed that contains these ingredients. However, with allergies, you may still have an allergic reaction to smelling foods or being exposed to food without having to consume it. Depending on your allergy, you may have more or less severe reactions.

Detecting The Sensitivities Or Allergies

Testing for food sensitivities and food allergies is also different. With sensitivities, you will take a food sensitivity test and also have to monitor what is making you feel ill, changing your diet to eliminate or incorporate potential food risks and intolerances. Allergies can have more dire outcomes, so allergy tests are done to find out what foods are dangerous to you and how severe your reactions are.

Signs, Reactions, And Long Term Health

When you are talking about allergies, this is something that you will typically deal with throughout your life, however, the severity of it will likely remain the same. With food sensitivities, people can go their entire lives without showing severe symptoms and dealing with it with pills or medication. However, they can also develop and change in severity as you age, both getting worse or even lessening as your body changes.

Ability To Adjust

If you have a food allergy, you often need to address it with medication. It is not recommended to consume foods you are allergic to, so it is difficult to ever adjust to such allergies by introducing them into your diet. This translates to the fact that most food allergies are permanent, regardless of when you first experienced the allergic reactions. A food sensitivity, however, may be countered by slowly introducing the food into your diet and exposing it to your body in minuscule amounts, increasing it over time. This, of course, is dependent on the severity of the sensitivity, as more serious food reactions may not be able to make those adjustments.


Another key difference between allergies and sensitivities would be how you treat specific food reactions. For allergies, if you are exposed to food, you will often need to take an epinephrine shot or use an epipen in order to quickly prevent your body from shutting down. You will also want to call emergency contacts or emergency numbers if you are not able to get access to epinephrine immediately, in order to prevent anaphylactic shock. When considering food sensitivities, such as celiac or gluten sensitivities, if you consume certain foods with gluten in it, there is no immediate treatment for relief. Depending on the amount consumed and the gravity of the sensitivity, you have to allow your body to pass what you have consumed. This can lead to diarrhea or vomiting, as your body tries to get rid of the foods you are sensitive to.

Food allergies and sensitivities range and differ in terms of the symptoms, up to their treatments. It is important to acknowledge these differences. You can live with either, but it is highly important that you understand what you have and how to treat it