How To Spot An Allergy Or Intolerance

How to spot an allergy or intolerance

Having a child with allergies can be worrying, but the calmer you are when getting used to a new diet for your child, the more relaxed your child will be.

What's the difference between an allergy and an intolerance?

If you suspect that milk or a certain food is making your child feel unwell or react suddenly, it can be quite unsettling to begin with. But there's a helpful way to tell the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance and that's how quickly the reaction takes place. 


With an allergy, the signs are usually there within minutes or seconds. An allergy is when the immune system gets a bit confused by reacting to an allergen in the food and builds up antibodies to attack it. The body releases defence chemicals, which cause an allergic reaction such as sneezing, swelling or a rash. It's important you get your doctor to diagnose an allergy if you suspect one.


With an intolerance, the symptoms might be similar but the reaction usually takes longer and doesn't involve the immune system. Upset tummies are often the main complaint.

What can I do to help?

Allergies to milk and food  are increasingly common, so you're not on your own. Keeping a diary of what you give your child can help you spot where the problem lies. Only offering a new food every four days during complementary feeding will also help you spot any new reaction. An intolerance can be harder to diagnose. In either case, the best thing is to contact your doctor for an appointment, who will help to diagnose the problem and give you advice on how to manage it.