As with most food allergies, the severity of cheese allergy symptoms varies greatly from person to person. Cheese allergies can cause a variety of symptoms from minor to severe and even life-threatening, with onset usually occurring within an hour of cheese consumption. Those who are allergic to cheese often experience more severe reactions with certain cheeses, and minor symptoms with other kinds of cheese.
If you are allergic to cheese, that probably indicates an underlying allergy to lactose, casein, or whey, proteins found both in cheese and in other dairy products, such as milk. People with this allergy should be cautioned that certain cheeses are more likely to cause symptoms than others. This is because some cheeses, particularly softer cheese, contain more of these proteins. The signs of a cheese allergy caused by lactose intolerance are mainly digestive, including nausea, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Other symptoms include skin rashes, congestion, wheezing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.
Other cheese allergies are caused by sensitivities to molds. Those with this type of food sensitivity are more likely to experience reactions after eating aged cheeses containing mold, such as asiago and gorgonzola. These allergies usually lead to symptoms affecting the mouth, such as itching or burning on the tongue and throat, facial skin irritation or swelling, sinus congestion, wheezing and asthmatic symptoms.
Cheese allergies can also be caused by a sensitivity to tyramine, an amino acid contained in foods that are fermented. Found in aged cheese, processed cheese, and soy-based cheese, those with tyramine sensitivities usually experience reactions after eating Parmesan, Romano, Brie, American, Gouda, Colby and several other types of cheese. This reaction results in excess histamine, leading to congestion, increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing.