Milk allergy is often confused with lactose intolerance, which is the inability to digest the sugar lactose. A milk allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly tries to fight off the protein found in milk. Casein and whey are the two main protein allergins found in milk. The curd that forms when milk is left to sour, is called casein. The watery part which is left after the curd is removed, is called whey.
People of all ages have milk allergies, but they are more common among infants. Approximately 2% to 3% of infants have a milk allergy, and typically it goes away on its own by the time a child is 3 to 5 years old. Mothers that are breastfeeding an infant that has a milk allergy, should restrict the amount of dairy products that they ingest because the milk protein can cross into the breast milk.
Milk Allergy Symptoms
The symptoms of a milk protein allergy fall into 3 types of reactions:
- Skin Reactions:
* Itchy red rash
* Swelling of lips, mouth, tongue, face or throat
* Allergic “Shiners” (black eyes)
- Stomach and Intestinal Reactions:
* Abdominal pain and bloating
* Diarrhoea (usually very runny)
- Nose, Throat and Lung Reactions:
* Runny Nose
* Watery and/or Itchy eyes
* Shortness of Breath
Milk and other dairy products are a major source of nutrients in the American diet. One of the most important nutrients in milk and dairy products is calcium. A concern for both children and adults with milk allergies is getting enough calcium in a diet that includes little or no dairy products.