Allergy vs Intolerance

  • Post by Manda Nicole
  • Dec 20, 2019

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines allergy as “exaggerated or pathological immunological reaction (as by sneezing, difficult breathing, itching, or skin rashes) to substances, situations, or physical states that are without comparable effect on the average individual.” According to Harvard Health Publishing, “A food allergy can be life-threatening, requiring immediate medical attention. The most common food allergies are to shellfish, nuts, fish, and eggs. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include the following: rash, hives, nausea, cramping, stomach pain, diarrhea, swelling or shortness of breath.”

Merriam-Webster defines intolerance as “exceptional sensitivity” specifically the “inability to properly metabolize or absorb a substance.”

Personally, I believe I have an intolerance. I’m hoping to meet with an allergist soon. I get a terrible abdominal pain for 3 to 6 hours. The pain starts about 20 to 40 minutes after I eat soy. My symptoms seem to only get worse as I age. My teenage cousin also has a soy problem. I guess we inherited it from our great grandmother. As of now, her issue is minimal. She can still have soy protein occasionally. I remember those days. I’m no doctor, but I believe hers will also worsen over time. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “…food intolerances are only a digestive issue. They can occur more often as you age since your digestion naturally becomes slower and your body produces less of the enzymes needed to break down food.”

Harvard Health Publishing. “Don’t Tolerate Food Intolerance.” Harvard Health, Harvard Health Publishing, Jan. 2017,

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