Crystal Lake allergist discusses the difference between food allergies and intolerance

Crystal Lake allergist discusses the difference between food allergies and intolerance

If you tend to have a certain reaction to any type of food, you may have wondered why. Food allergies such as celiac disease have led to a number of changes in the manufacturing of food products. Visit your grocery store and you will likely find the evidence of this on the numerous items marked “gluten free.” This type of food allergy only affects about one percent of the population. Those with celiac disease must be mindful about what they eat, because the ingestion of even small amounts of gluten results in an immune reaction that causes damage to the small intestine.

Gluten is not the only food item that is notorious for causing allergic response and gastrointestinal upset. Other common culprits include seafood, cow’s milk, eggs, and wheat.

Food intolerance

Intolerance to food occurs when the body lacks the enzyme necessary to process a component of the food. A common example is lactose. Intolerance may also be a reaction to an additive or chemical in a food, which can be a challenge if processed foods are regularly consumed. Initially, the indication that a food intolerance may exist is usually too subtle to really notice. However, the older a person gets, the more severe the reaction to a trigger food may become.

Symptoms of food intolerance include gas and bloating, diarrhea, and nausea.

Food allergies

When a true food allergy exists, exposure to a certain food item will prompt the immune system into action. Production of immunoglobulin E, or IgE, increases, as the body tries to defend itself against a perceived threat. While food intolerance often develops early in life, it is possible that a food allergy may occur at any time.

Symptoms of food allergies may occur at the slightest exposure to the allergen. The allergic response may present as gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting or diarrhea. Other symptoms include itching, hives, and difficulty breathing.

Food allergies can be confirmed through testing

Patients near Crystal Lake and Elgin are encouraged to visit Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates if they suspect they have a food allergy. By introducing a small extract of the potential allergen and testing for IgE antibodies, we can make significant progress in ending unpleasant symptoms. Get the help you need to avoid allergies and live a healthy life. Call (847) 888-8802.

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Meredith Cirrincione | Dr. Noga Askenazi

Haley Young is a board-certified physician assistant specializing in immunology and allergy with a comprehensive background in neurosurgery and dermatology. Holding a Masters of Physician Assistant Studies from Lincoln Memorial University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Aurora University, she brings a holistic approach to patient care. Haley Young is committed to treating the whole person—mind, body, and spirit, adeptly managing complex conditions like allergic rhinitis, food allergies, and asthma. She is a member of prestigious professional organizations and is dedicated to building trust with her patients, ensuring compassionate and comprehensive care.


Amy Schack, a distinguished board-certified Physician Associate, brings a wealth of expertise to patient care. Specializing in allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma, and rashes, Amy is renowned for her commitment to excellence and compassionate approach. With a background in immediate care and orthopedics, she holds a Master's in Physician Assistant studies from Midwestern University and a Bachelor of Science from Northern Illinois University. A member of esteemed professional associations, including the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Association of PAs in Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, Amy Schack instills confidence, ensuring you can trust her unwavering dedication to your health and well-being.


Meredith Cirrincione is a board certified Physician Assistant and specializes in treating allergies, with a focus on asthma, rashes, environmental allergies, chemical and food allergies. She holds a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from The Chicago Medical School - Rosalind Franklin University of Health Sciences. She is a Fellow member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Illinois Academy of Physician Assistants, and the Association of PAs in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. She likes to approach things holistically. She is a strong patient advocate and adored by her patients. She enjoys singing, reading, cooking, and the great outdoors.


Dr. Noga Askenazi is a nationally recognized asthma and allergy specialist who is board certified in pediatric and adult allergy. Her areas of special interest are innovative treatment of rashes, sinusitis, food allergies, asthma and immune disorders. She was past President of the ISAAI (Illinois Society of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology), works on state and national committees for advancement of the allergy field and is a consultant for Advocate, Ascension Health, Northwestern amongst other health care systems. Her joy is helping patients reach their goals after together determining best treatments. Her staff and patients are a chosen family, and she invests in their happiness. She enjoys gardening, biking and cooking to good music.