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Got Milk Allergy?

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Milk is considered one of the most common food allergies in the world, but there seems to be much confusion between milk allergy and another very common condition—lactose intolerance.

Cow’s milk allergy (CMA), which is less common than lactose intolerance, is caused when the immune system reacts against the proteins found in milk.

The two main protein fractions or allergens found in milk are whey (20%) and casein (80%). Whey tends to cause the most clinical problems and casein (the most important allergen in cheese) is probably the least allergenic for those individuals who are allergic to whey.

Lactose intolerance (LI) is probably the most common food sensitivity in the world and it is not an immune response, but rather a physical reaction to lactose—the sugar found on cow’s milk and milk products. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body does not produce the enzyme lactase which is needed to digest milk sugar.

It is estimated that 70% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant to some degree.

Recent research reveals that a whopping 90-98% of Asians are lactose intolerant, blacks (90-95%), Mexicans (73%), south Indians (70%), Jews (68%) and whites (20-25%).  

Milk Allergy Symptoms
Allergic reactions to milk may start immediately following the consumption of even the smallest amounts of milk or milk products, up to several hours or even days later. There are three types of milk allergic reactions including: type 1, type 2 and type 3.

Individuals suffering with type 1 milk allergy usually experience symptoms such as hives, wheezy chest, runny nose, diarrhea or vomiting within minutes of consuming small amounts of milk or milk products.

With type 2, symptoms appear several hours after drinking average amounts of CM and the most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea.

With Type 3, milk or milk products are consumed in large amounts with symptoms developing 20 hours up to days after consumption. The most common type 3 symptoms are skin reactions, respiratory problems and diarrhea.

Common symptoms of lactose intolerance are similar to milk allergy symptoms and include: gas, bloating, nausea, rumbling, cramps and diarrhea. A lactose intolerant individual will usually experience symptoms 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose.

The following symptoms could indicate a milk allergy:

Chronic runny nose
Ear infections
Excessive colic
Excoriated buttocks
Failure to thrive
Fluid behind ears
Nasal stuffiness
Rash, hives and eczema
Recurrent "colds," sinusitis,
Recurrent bronchitis
Recurrent diarrhea
Wet and wheezy chest

Milk Allergy Effects On Overall Health
Fortunately for milk allergy sufferers, there really are no health hazards to eliminating cow’s milk from the diet. As a matter of fact, cow’s milk is currently being referred to as “a” source of calcium and vitamin D and is no longer considered “the” source for calcium and vitamin D.

According to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, whole milk actually does the body more harm than good. Recent studies show that:

•    Dairy products can trigger arthritis
•    Milk causes blood loss from the intestinal tract, which depletes the body’s iron
•    Children with diabetes have high levels of milk protein.

Recent studies also suggest that approximately 85%-95% of kidney stones contain calcium in some form. It is important to keep in mind, however, that conflicting studies show that a lack of calcium can actually increase common components of kidney stones.

Milk Allergy Diagnosis
To determine if you have a true milk allergy or are lactose intolerant, there are several testing options available. The most common is the skin prick test (SPT) followed by a blood test

Tomorrow - treating milk allergy.