Allergy, Intolerance, Aversion, Poisoning … What’s The Difference?

The symptoms are often very similar, but the causes of allergy, intolerance, aversion or poisoning are very different. It is therefore important to differentiate the origin of the problems and to find appropriate solutions. 

Allergy, intolerance, aversion, poisoning ... what's the difference?

Allergy, intolerance, aversion, poisoning … there are various reasons why  certain foods trigger symptoms and complaints, some of which can be similar, but have very different causes. In today’s article, we explain the differences and triggers that underlie these uncomfortable responses from the body.

Allergy, intolerance, aversion or poisoning? Know the differences

1. Allergy

An allergy is a reaction of the immune system to an allergen that is usually mistakenly classified as dangerous. So it is a false alarm from the body that is accompanied by various symptoms: 

  • Tingling and itching
  • edema
  • Hives
  • Swollen tongue or throat
  • stomach pain
  • Diarrhea or nausea
  • Vomiting and dizziness

Allergies can vary in intensity:  they can only produce mild symptoms or they can result in anaphylactic shock. This is a medical emergency that can be fatal. Immediate treatment with adrenaline shots can save lives.

The causes of an allergy are usually certain proteins that are found in seafood, dried fruits, fish, eggs, milk or wheat. Even a very small amount of these proteins can trigger an allergic response through IgE antibodies (immunoglobulin E). 

It is very important to see a doctor if you have respiratory problems, pressure on the chest, reduced blood pressure, accelerated pulse, dizziness or lightheadedness!

Intolerance to dried fruits
Food allergies occur when the immune system reacts to certain allergens. These can be found in seafood, dried fruits, fish, eggs, or other foods, for example.

Intolerance or intolerance

Food intolerance or intolerance is when the organism is unable to digest or metabolize certain food components. This creates various reactions and complaints. If the intolerance is innate, it is also referred to as primary intolerance. A secondary intolerance has no genetic origins. It can be temporary or chronic.

The most common food intolerance is caused by lactose and gluten, but there  are also many other substances that can cause unpleasant reactions. Most of the time, intolerance is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Skin problems
  • Neurological problems
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle discomfort or rheumatic problems

The main differences to an allergy are  that the intolerance is not caused by hypersensitivity based on an immunological reaction. In addition, the symptoms are less acute.

In recent years, individual studies have been carried out in which intolerance to various foods was assessed through blood tests. But there is no scientific evidence.


In this case, we are talking about one of the most common eating disorders that appear in the first three years of life. Affected children reject certain foods because of their organoleptic properties. This can be recognized by appropriate facial expressions, vomiting and expelling the food.

Often there is a disorder of the sensory processing at the same time, which is why other sensory problems can also arise. Normally, the parents will be aware of the fact that the child always refuses new foods. 

However, he eats foods that he likes without any problems. If affected children are not given nutritional supplements, they may show signs of deficiency, but growth problems do not usually occur. There is also no food allergy or traumatic experience.

Intolerant child
With aversion, the child rejects certain foods because of their oganoleptic properties. This very often leads to deficiency symptoms.

Food poisoning

Food poisoning occurs  when a food contains bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. This can be the case, for example, in the following situations:

  • If you don’t clean your hands thoroughly before eating,
  • or if there is not enough hygiene when cooking.
  • Due to mistakes in the preservation of the food
  • and from consuming contaminated water.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain or cramps, and fever. These signs can appear hours or weeks after consuming the food or water.

It is important to consult your doctor in this case,  especially if vomiting, blood in your stool, or diarrhea for more than three days occurs frequently. In addition, medical attention is required if you have a high fever or signs of dehydration or tingling muscles.

Food poisoning is often caused by bacteria such as Costridium botulinum, E. Coli, and Salmonella. Most of these pathogens are found in meat, eggs, or open cans that are kept at the wrong temperature.

It is also essential to take appropriate hygiene measures when preparing and storing the food. Find out enough information about this topic!


You now know the differences between allergy, intolerance, aversion, and poisoning and you know the symptoms to  help identify these issues. Your doctor will make an accurate diagnosis of any complaints and advise you on what to do in your specific case. With this you can prevent long-term consequences.

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