Milk Allergy vs. Milk Intolerance: What's The Difference?

Milk allergies are becoming more common, especially in babies and small children. There is some confusion about what is an allergic reaction and what is intolerance, even in the medical world.

Yet there is a distinct difference between the immunological reaction (allergy) and the non-immunologic reaction (intolerance) and the potential dangers of either.

Milk Allergy vs Milk Intolerance

The most common milk people react to is cow's milk. Cow's milk allergy (CMA) is separated from cow's milk intolerance (CMI) by symptoms and reactions. CMA is an immune system response, just as are other food allergies, while CMI is generally a gastrointestinal response. An overview study conducted in 2002 separated the two definitively (see that here).

The fundamental difference is that most CMI reactions are based on lactose (sugars) while most CMA responses are based on proteins. With an intolerance, it can often be avoided by using products that are lactose-free. With an allergy, the person may be allergic to one or all of the proteins in milk, thus requiring that the milk be avoided entirely.

Milk Proteins

People who are allergic to cow's milk will be allergic to either the caseins or whey proteins or both. Caseins are the "curd" portions of the milk (it's solids) and comprise about 80 percent of the milk's protein content. Whey is the liquid portion and accounts for the other 20 percent of the proteins in milk.

As with other allergens, those who are allergic to milk proteins will have an immunological reaction to the proteins entering their system that over-compensates for the "invasion" and releases histamines and other chemicals in response. This triggers several symptoms for the milk allergy sufferer:

Common Milk Allergy Symptoms

Within minutes (sometimes hours) of eating milk, the allergy sufferer will have some or all of the following reactions:

  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Throat tightness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Stomachache or vomiting
  • Itchy, watery, swollen eyes
  • Hives or red spots
  • Swelling

Other symptoms like diarrhea or blood pressure drops could also occur, usually as a longer-term or late reaction and often after some of the above reactions have taken place.

Finally, the most severe reaction is anaphylaxis, usually beginning with the above respiratory reactions which quickly become worse until they become life-threatening.

Photo: Pexels

Community

Latest Post by sunshinestate Thu, 11/21/2019 - 10:37am
Comments: 6
Latest Post by sunshinestate Thu, 11/21/2019 - 10:31am
Comments: 172
Latest Post by absfabs Tue, 11/19/2019 - 11:01am
Comments: 478

More Articles

It’s the time of year when holiday parties, and family gatherings can make allergen avoidance more problematic. Whether you celebrate Christmas,...

When love is in the air we can get caught up in the moment and throw caution to the wind. However, if you have a...

Food allergies and sensitivities are on the rise. Almost everyone knows someone who has problems with at least one food. The most common food...

Peanuts and Nuts Can Trigger An Asthma Attack

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI), more than 3...

The relationship between anxiety and food or other allergy is a complicated and puzzling one. Research has shown that stress can exacerbate...

More Articles

More Articles

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, over 50 million people in the U.S. have allergies. Today's allergy tests...

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) addresses the labeling of packaged food products regulated by the FDA....

For people who suffer from anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can result from an allergy to...

Anaphylactic shock (A-nuh-fih-LAK-tik shok): A severe and sometimes life-threatening immune system reaction to an antigen that a person has been...

In 1963 the American Medical Association designed a special symbol that would alert emergency medical personnel of special medical conditions when...

Finding allergy-free foods for an office potluck may seem impossible, but more options are available than you might think. Eating foods prepared...

One of the most difficult things for a parent to do is determine whether his or her toddler has a cold or a...

You no doubt have your own way of teaching people about your child’s food allergy, a way that suits your temperament, and style of communication....

Reliable peanut allergy statistics are not that easy to come by. There is a lot of available research on food allergies in general but not too...

Most people know that to enjoy whatever food safety accommodations an airline offers they need to inform the airline of their allergy prior to...

A 504 plan* documents food allergy accommodations agreed to by parents and their child’s school. Plans are typically created during a 504 meeting...

If there is a child at your children's school allergic to peanuts, the school probably discourages or may not allow peanut products to be brought...

If you are on a budget, but you need to wear some sort of notification that you have a peanut...

Unless we consciously carve out time for self-care, constant food allergy management can slowly erode our sense of well-being. Signs of allergy-...

Peanuts cause more severe food allergic reactions than other foods, followed by shellfish, fish, tree nuts and eggs. Although there is only a...