Cheese allergies are believed to affect 2 to 5 percent of children, and their prevalence may be growing. Cheese allergies are not just dairy allergies; they can also be caused by an allergic reaction to mold, tyramine, or lactose intolerance. While the symptoms are similar to those experienced with other food allergies, knowing what symptoms to watch for can help you spot them.
The most common symptom of a cheese allergy is an upset stomach after eating cheese. Most people with food allergies experience this reaction within one to two hours. It may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or abdominal pain.
Cheese allergies can also cause outward symptoms such as hives. These are red, itchy welts on the skin. They may appear in one area or all over the body, and tend to be warm to the touch and pink in color. Hives may be accompanied by swelling, irritation, or itchiness. Any area that touched the cheese, including the tongue and mouth, may experience swelling, tingling, or burning.
Another common side effect experienced by those with cheese allergies who have eaten cheese is difficulty breathing. This can include shortness of breath, shallow breathing, or swelling in the tongue or throat which makes it difficult to breathe. Cheese can also cause an asthma attack in those who have both allergies and asthma.
A severe allergy to cheese can cause anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening allergic reaction. This is the most dangerous symptom of a cheese allergy, and requires immediate medical attention. The symptoms of anaphylaxis usually appear within minutes of eating cheese, and can include nausea, wheezing, swelling, serious breathing difficulties, increased heart rate, and loss of consciousness.