Milk Allergy/Milk (Lactose) Intolerance

A true allergy to milk occurs when the body’s immune system has an adverse reaction to one or more of the proteins in cow’s milk. Reactions can range from immediate to taking several days to present. Some people will be able to cope all right with some products that contain dairy as they are only mildly allergic to milk. Others will find that cannot tolerate any dairy at all. Bowel upset is one of the major symptoms but reactions can also manifest as distressed breathing, skin rash, nausea and hives. In serious cases anaphylactic shock can occur.

The easiest way to find out if you are allergic to milk is to monitor your reactions after ingesting a milk containing product. This is especially important for parents and young children as the child may not be able to voice their upset. If symptoms do occur, then it’s best to go and see your GP to discuss how best to treat the allergy.

Once properly diagnosed, there are many ways in which you can accommodate a milk allergy without it causing too much trouble with your diet. Soya products are completely free from any animal products so are a safe substitute for dairy. You can easily buy things like Soya milk, Soya based cereals, Soya based dairy products such as cheese and cream, and even Soya based proteins.

It is possible to be sensitive to milk but not altogether allergic to it. This is termed milk intolerance. This differs from a true allergy in that the body is not actually allergic to the proteins in milk but rather unable to digest one of the sugars in milk such as lactose. This is due to a lack of the enzyme lactase. This lack of ability to digest lactose leads to upset tummy, weak bowels, headache, nausea and in some cases a skin rash.

In both cases, you need to determine your level of tolerance or allergy to milk and tailor your diet around it to best minimise your symptoms to milk or dairy ingestion.

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Guide to Food Allergies