Milk allergy and lactose intolerance are two different digestive concerns but often misunderstands as the same health issue because of its similar sounding. Both of these health issues cause you to avoid dairy products which is a balanced diet for human health. However, by following some preventive measures for avoiding milk allergy and lactose intolerance, this condition can be controlled.
Milk allergy is one kind of food allergy which happens due to the allergic reaction of protein existing in milk. On the other hand lactose, intolerance happens in the lack of lactose enzyme which is necessary to break down the lactose and other dairy products in the stomach.
Milk allergy is primarily associated with an early age of life that happens particularly in children because of their dependency on milk as their primary food. This may appear from an infant to children aging 5. Lactose intolerance is a common health concern which can happen to people of any age and takes a very long time to develop fully.
Symptoms of Milk Allergy
As milk allergy is one type of food reaction or allergy due to milk intake so it mostly happens in infants and children as they are primary consumers of milk. In this regard, milk is not only limited to cow milk as this reaction can happen to other types of milk too.
Apart from children, it can happen to people of any age in their life but this is a very rare case. Within a few minutes to some hours of milk intake, the symptoms of milk allergy start to develop in its full-fledged form. Some common symptoms of this digestive concern include:
- Pain in stomach
- Gas and bloating
- Swelling in lips and throat
- Breathing shortness
- Skin Rashes
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance digestive concern happens due to small intestinal damage, caused by viral or the bacterial infection. Apart from this, it can also appear as a genetic concern if any of the parents of the affected person have developed this health issue in their life.
After 30 minutes to 2 hours of the consumption of milk or any other dairy products, the lactose intolerance symptoms start to develop. This health concern is most common among elderly people and with age, it increases. Some common symptoms of lactose intolerance are mentioned below:
- Gas and bloating
- Stomach pain
Diagnosis for Milk Allergy
In general symptoms of milk, allergy problem is quite severe than the lactose intolerance issue however in order to come on a conclusion doctors conduct following diagnostic tests for concluding the existence of milk allergy health concern.
- Blood Test: In this diagnosis process your blood sample will be taken for lab test which will measure the existence of some kind of antibodies in the blood to clear whether you have developed milk allergy or there is some other concern.
- Skin Prick Test: In this particular test some liquid mixed with a dairy allergen is kept inside your underarms area or in your back. It will raise bum which may or may not be surrounded by itchy red skin. If so happens then it signifies the milk allergy existence.
- Oral Test: If the above two tests are not giving any definite result for conclusion or doctors are not satisfied by the result of the above two tests then they will try this oral challenge test. In this particular diagnosis process, you will be given different food items which may or may not contain milk in a high quantity. This will prove whether you react to foods that contain milk or not.
Diagnosis for Lactose Intolerance
In order to diagnose the existence of lactose intolerance, health concern doctors will conduct the following tests.
- Lactose Tolerance Test: In the lactose tolerance test a liquid loaded with lactose will be given to drink. After two hours of drinking this lactose rich drink, the glucose level in blood will be measured in which if the level of glucose doesn’t show any increment that means you are unable to digest glucose existing in the drink.
- Hydrogen Breathing Test: In this particular test you will be provided a high lactose-containing liquid to drink. If you will be unable to digest this lactose content then it will be released through your breath in the form of hydrogen. This can be tested by measuring hydrogen level in your breath at a fixed interval of time.
Causes of Milk Allergy
Milk allergy is a very common form of food allergy that mostly happens in children aging under 5 and in some adults also this kind of allergy exists. As the name suggests people who get a victim of this allergy gets a trigger to develop the symptoms of milk allergy after few minutes to some hours after consuming milk or any other dairy product.
This type of allergy is primarily associated with cow milk, however, the chances exist to a great extent that people who get a trigger for milk allergy symptoms with cow milk, also get those allergy symptoms with the milk of other animals such as goat, buffalo and sheep’s milk. Sometimes people developing cow milk allergy get an allergic reaction to soy milk as well but this is not very common.
The cause or reason for developing milk allergy is the immune system malfunctioning. That means your immune system identifies some milk protein as inappropriate or harmful for you. So next time when you drink such milk your immune system triggers for the secretion of immunoglobulin E or IgE antibodies which neutralizes the protein which causes to develop signs or symptoms of milk allergy.
In cow’s milk, there are two primary proteins that can cause an allergic reaction by releasing histamine and some other chemicals through your immune system. Those milk proteins are as follows:
- Whey: Whey protein exists in the liquid part of the milk which remains after the milk curdles.
- Casein: Casein protein exists in the solid part of milk which curdles.
The milk allergy patient can get the allergy trigger by either one or both types of milk protein which vary from person to person. However, the problem lies in the fact that these proteins are become difficult to avoid fully because these even exist in some processed foods that are difficult to recognize.
Risk Factors for Milk Allergy
Some factors can increase the risk of developing a milk allergy health concern.
Genetics play a major role and an effective factor that can cause milk allergy health concern. If this health issue exists in your family history or any of your parents are the patient of some kind of allergy issue such as asthma, eczema, hives, etc. then you are very much at risk of developing this food allergy problem.
It is seen that children who develop milk allergy have other allergies too in their body but mostly this food allergy comes into the picture before other kinds of allergic reactions.
Infants and children who are more dependent on milk as their primary food are more likely to develop milk allergy digestive health concern. Infants to children aging 4 to 5 years are mostly the victim of milk allergy as their digestive system remains weak in this age and they easily react to milk.
However, with time their digestive system gets strong and the risk of milk allergy also reduces thereof.
Atopic dermatitis is one of the severe forms of skin inflammation that mostly develops in children. If any child is suffering from this health issue then they are more likely at risk to develop a food allergy in their future.
Preventive Measures for Avoiding Milk Allergy and Lactose Intolerance
Milk is the most ideal and complete food for everyone especially for children it is vital as they are in their growing stage of life. However when you found that your child is detected with milk allergy or food allergy then it is very much necessary to prevent this concern in the future by applying some prudent preventive measures.
Lactose intolerance is primary develops in elderly age, which can be prevented with some prudent measures. Some prevention tips are given below for avoiding both these concerns.
Breastfeeding is the best possible way to prevent the risk of milk allergy to your infant. Mother’s milk is the source of multiple nutrients which mother is getting in her daily intake that an infant cannot get through any other source or way.
Also, breastfeeding is always a safe and pure way to feed your child as long as it is possible for you. However just make a precaution if you find your child suspected to milk allergy, that you are not consuming cow milk or any other dairy product as it can cause an allergic reaction when your child will get it through your milk.
Use Lactose Enzyme Supplements
For preventing the concern of lactose intolerance the best possible step that you can do is to reduce the consumption of those foods and drinks which contains lactose to avoid its trigger on your digestive tracts.
Also, usage of those food supplements which carry lactose enzymes in order to help your digestive system to digests the lactose content of your food intake can help you a lot.
Use Soy-Based Formula
Children who develop milk allergy concern should be fed with soy-based formula products as because the soy protein is found equally effective and full of nutrients just like the cow milk or other dairy products for kids. However, it might possible that a child who develops milk allergy have also an allergy with soy-based formulas.
Hypoallergenic Formulas Based Products
Another alternate of dairy products for preventing the milk allergy health concern is to use hypoallergenic formula based products. These products are consists of an especial enzyme that helps to break down the milk proteins such as whey or casein.
These products are prepared by heating and filtering process on the basis of that these are classified into partially or highly hydrolyzed or elemental formulas. Some hypoallergenic formulas are milk based and some of them are based on amino acids. Other than the highly hydrolyzed products the amino acid based products contain very least possibility for an allergic reaction.
Avoid Allergy Causing Dairy Products
If you found your child suspected to milk allergy then in order to prevent all the concerns and effect of this digestive concern avoid the use of those products which contains milk proteins. Dairy products that must be avoided include low-fat milk, whole milk, buttermilk, skim milk, yogurt, butter, cheese or any other sources of cheese, gelato, ice cream, etc.
Avoid Milk Rich Processed Foods
Milk is also used as an ingredient for preparing some processed foods which can also cause food or milk allergy. So this kind of processed foods must be avoided. Some common sources of baked or processed milk rich foods include casein, protein powders, whey, candies, caramel, nougat, artificial cheese flavor, artificial butter flavor, hydrolysates and products containing ingredients prefix with “lact” such as lactate, lactose, etc.
Read the Ingredients before Buying Foods
The best preventive measure for avoiding the risk of milk allergy and lactose intolerance is to read very carefully the ingredients and label before buying any food product for your children and for yourself. In this context, you must be aware that some products which mention as nondairy or milk free are actually not so in reality and may contain milk proteins that can elevate your children’s allergy.
You can ask the manufacturer or service provider in the situation of any doubt regarding the product’s ingredients in order to get sure about its real ingredients name. Also, get sure about the processing method of the said product as some products are dip into butter or milk during the processing time that can also trigger the milk allergy.
Now you must have understood the basic difference between two primary digestive concerns i.e. milk allergy and lactose intolerance. As infants and children are more prone to develop these concerns and as it can even get complicated if not treated on time and with care so for the safer side use all above mentioned preventive measures for avoiding milk allergy and lactose intolerance.