Allergy VS Intolerance VS Autoimmune Disease - What's the difference?
People sometimes mix up allergy and intolerance, or talk about it like it's the same thing. There is a big difference though. Autoimmune conditions are also a separate piece of work.
So let's break it down to their basic differences:
- Has a threshold e.g. you can eat some of it without symptoms, until you eat so much you reach your 'threshold' and see symptoms. Thresholds vary for each person, and their stress levels at the time.
- Shows it's effects either quickly (after eating, 30 mins after eating, that day) or it takes a while (the next day, a couple of days later etc)
- Won't typically cause life threatening symptoms, just temporary uncomfortable and unwanted symptoms.
- Has no threshold - if you eat it, you get symptoms.
- Symptoms are pretty much immediate. If you eat you, you'll know.
- May result in a life threatening response known as anaphylaxis - the most severe form of reaction that involves the respiratory system and the heart.
- the reaction occurs when the allergen enters your body (mouth, skin, nose etc) - your immune system tells your body the allergen is dangerous and your body reacts in a way to hunt, destroy and remove the allergen - this causes your symptoms.
An autoimmune disease:
- has long term impacts on your body - and whilst the origin of autoimmune diseases are thought to be due to genetics, drugs (medical/otherwise), lifestyle choices, or infections.
- has two types - one that affects or targets just one body organ (with some flow on effects into the rest of your body), and another type that affects your whole body, or multiple organs (with mass effects on your entire body).
- occurs when your body misjudges your bodies own cells for allergens and starts attacking them. This causes your symptoms. In the case of coeliac disease, the immune system reacts abnormally when consuming gluten, causing small bowel damage.