Milk Allergy

Overview of a Milk Allergy

A milk allergy is common in children, and can happen with not only cow’s milk, but also sheep, goats, buffalo, etc. An allergic reaction to milk can be mild to severe. Avoiding milk altogether is the best form of treatment.

  • The allergy to cow milk is common in young children – with nearly 2.5% of children 3 and younger experiencing an allergy to milk.
  • Symptoms can range from mild to severe – from hives to anaphylaxis.
  • If you are allergic to milk, then it may be best to avoid milk from other animals too. Goat milk and cow milk have very similar proteins that may cause the same allergic reaction.
  • Lactose intolerance and milk allergy are not the same thing. Lactose intolerance only affects the digestive tract while a milk allergy attacks your whole immune system.
  • Be sure to check labels on creams, ointments, cosmetics, and medicine to ensure they do not contain cow milk.

Symptoms of a Milk Allergy

Each person will react to a milk allergy in a different way. Most reactions will be mild and can include hives, wheezing, itching and tingling around the mouth, swelling of lips, tongue or throat, or vomiting. Some other symptoms that you may experience after a period of time include: diarrhea, abdominal cramps, colic in babies, watery eyes and runny nose.

Causes of a Milk Allergy

An allergy to milk occurs when your immune system believes that the protein in milk is harmful. There are two main proteins in the milk that may cause the allergic reaction. Casein is the solid part of the milk that curdles, and why is the liquid part that remains after the milk curdles. An allergic reaction may be to just one protein, but it could be to both. These are difficult to avoid, as they are often found in many processed foods.

Risk Factors of a Milk Allergy

You may be at a higher risk for a milk allergy if you have other types of allergies. Since an allergy to milk is most often found in children, the milk allergy may be the first to develop. Age is a risk factor in the milk allergy, as this allergy is most commonly found in children. If a food allergy tends to run in the family, then you are at a higher risk for a milk allergy. Lastly, if a child has atopic dermatitis, they are much more likely to develop a food allergy.

Complications of a Milk Allergy

One of the main complications is when children develop a milk allergy; they are much more likely to also develop other health problems. Other health problems may include allergies to other foods and hay fever, which is a reaction to pet dander, grass pollen, dust mites, etc.

Prevention of a Milk Allergy

The only way to prevent a food allergy is to avoid the food that causes a reaction. Some processed foods may have the ingredients hidden in them, so check labels carefully. Ask questions to the server if you are eating out.

Diagnosis of a Milk Allergy

To begin the diagnosis, your allergist will ask a series of questions about your diet and the reactions that occur. To confirm the diagnosis, the allergist may also recommend a skin test or a blood test. If these tests are not able to confirm an allergy, then the allergist will administer an oral challenge. During this oral challenge, your allergist will give you different types of food to watch for a reaction.

Treatment of a Milk Allergy

Avoiding milk and milk proteins is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction. In mild symptoms, an antihistamine may be recommended. However, in a serious allergic reaction, it is recommended to inject a dose of epinephrine and go straight to the emergency room.

Summary of a Milk Allergy

A milk allergy is very common in young children. Some complications of having a milk allergy include developing other allergies to foods, or having other health problems. Symptoms of this allergic reaction can range from mild to severe. Avoiding milk is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction, but that is sometimes harder than it seems because it is disguised in many processed foods. In an emergency situation, a dose of epinephrine may be necessary.

Milk Allergy Diet

Helpful information on milk allergy diet foods to avoid, including foods which may indicate presence of milk protein.

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Milk Allergy FAQ

What are the symptoms of a milk allergy in adults?

The most common symptoms of a milk allergy are vomiting, coughing, hives, wheezing, itching, and swelling.

Is a milk allergy the same as lactose intolerance?

No, they are very different. Lactose intolerance is when you cannot digest lactose, but a milk allergy is when your body is allergic.

Can you all of a sudden become allergic to milk?

It is rare that someone will suddenly become allergic to milk. Being lactose intolerance can oftentimes be confused with an allergy.

What causes milk allergy?

A milk allergy occurs when the body has an immune reaction.