Milk allergy is an allergic reaction to any of the proteins of milk. The milk may be from any animal, but allergy to cow’s milk is the most common form of milk allergy. There are numerous proteins in milk, but allergies are mostly caused by the alpha S1-casein protein. It is estimated that about 2.5% of children under the age of three are allergic to milk: these children mostly grow out of the allergy after some time. However, these allergies can also exist in adults.
It is to be kept in mind that milk allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance. As the name suggests, the first is an allergic reaction of the immune system to milk, while the latter does not involve the immune system at all: it is the absence of the production of an enzyme called lactase, which is essential for the digestion of milk and milk products.
Like other allergies, milk allergy has some immediate symptoms and signs, while others are delayed and appear after the lapse of some time. The immediate signs are wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hives and vomiting. Other symptoms will take time to develop, such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, runny nose, watering eyes and itching and rashes around the mouth.
Milk allergies can, in rare cases, develop into a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. When this occurs, the airways are narrowed and breathing can be restricted. Anaphylaxis is an emergency and it requires medical treatment and also entails a visit to the emergency room. Anaphylaxis can be caused by an array of foods and not only milk, so an allergy testing is called for if a case of anaphylaxis occurs. The symptoms include itching, flushing of the face, swelling of the face and the neck which causes great difficulty in breathing.
Dealing with milk allergies is important and it is best to pay heed to symptoms the first time they occur. If your child shows symptoms of milk allergy or if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, after the consumption of milk, visit your doctor and tell them about this incident. It is best to consult the doctor when the allergy symptoms have not subsided and are still easily observable. Remember that even mild symptoms should be treated as urgent and definitely should not be ignored, whether they are in children or adults.
There are many foods which do contain milk derivatives or traces of milk but seem to be without them. Make sure to check the ingredients of all items you consume to ensure that they do not contain any milk that can cause allergies. Medication can also contain ingredients like whey, which trigger allergic response in people allergic to milk. Whenever you eat food that you have not prepared on your own, be sure to ask about the ingredients. Similarly, make it a habit to read labels so you know what the ingredients of packaged food are. These steps will help you prevent uncomfortable, painful or even potentially fatal experiences that can occur because of milk allergy.
Simon Jackson is shares great tips about milk allergy (interesting to know is that the Danish term is mælkeallergi) in various blogs online. If you want to keep yourself updated about this condition, try searching for his works.