Often times after drinking a tall glass of milk or eating a bowl of ice cream our bodies experience physical reactions that cause us discomfort. We immediately jump to the conclusion that we are allergic to dairy and worry about what that may mean for our health.
In reality, we probably are not allergic to dairy, or specifically milk, and our health is not in jeopardy. Although we may not feel great, we are likely experiencing intolerance. Intolerance to milk and milk products may be uncomfortable, but they are likely not severe. Actual allergic reactions, on the other hand, can be life-threatening
As it is easy to confuse an allergy with intolerance, it is important to understand the inner workings that separate the two. It is also important to know that when looking at a food’s ingredients, “milk” and “dairy” are not necessarily the same thing.
Allergies caused from cow’s milk range from mild to moderate to severe. The reaction occurs when the immune system mistakenly identifies the protein in milk as something harmful. Thus, causing a release of antibodies known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) to neutralize the allergy-causing food or substance.
Mayo Clinic lists the symptoms of a milk allergy as:
- Signs and symptoms that may take more time to develop include:
- Loose stools, which may contain blood
- Abdominal cramps
- Coughing or wheezing
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy skin rash, often around the mouth
- Colic, in babies
According to Mayo Clinic, milk allergies are amongst the most common of food allergies. They differ from person to person and usually occur a few minutes to a few hours after consumption. If you are allergic, you should avoid milk completely. Luckily, however, many kids outgrow a milk allergy.
Intolerance to milk, on the other hand, is a condition that does not involve the immune system and is caused from not having enough of the enzyme used to break down lactose. The discomfort felt from lactose intolerance will not necessarily happen every time the milk-based food or beverage is consumed. Depending on the level of lactose intolerance you have, you may be able to eat small amounts without a reaction, and even a severe reaction is usually not life-threatening.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- Stomach pain
- Gas and bloating
If you experience discomfort brought on by milk or other dairy products it is important that you see a doctor in order to find out if you have intolerance or an allergy so you can start feeling better. Through patient-centered care, our expert physicians at CT Sinus Center will use up-to-date diagnostic knowledge and tools to find out exactly what is triggering your reaction. Once that is determined, they will set up an effective, individualized treatment plan to keep you safe and feeling great.
To make an appointment at one of our four conveniently located offices, call 860-BALLOON today.