Allergy to soy is one of the top eight most prevalent food allergies in the United States. It is believed that soy milk allergies are more common in babies and children than in adults. Some people will react to all forms of soy, while others only react to specific soy products, such as soy milk. Those with soy allergies often find that this allergen is difficult to avoid; according to one estimate, up to half of all processed foods contain soy in some form.
Soy milk, made with soy beans, is a popular alternative to cow's milk for those following a vegan diet. It is also a commonly suggested alternative to cow's milk for those who have lactose intolerance, milk allergies, or other conditions that cause them to be unable to consume milk. However, some people who are allergic to cow's milk are also allergic to the proteins found in soy milk. In addition, soy milk allergies are also common in those who do not have other food allergies.
Allergies to soy milk are caused by proteins in the soya, or soy bean. The immune system mistakenly identifies this protein as a threat, attacking it. Symptoms of this food allergy usually appear within a few hours of drinking the milk.
Reactions to soy milk range from mild to severe. Symptoms of a soy milk allergy may include skin rashes, swelling of the mouth, nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. There are many other symptoms that may be linked to this food allergy, depending on the person. Severe soy milk allergies can also cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition requiring emergency medical treatment. Allergic reactions to soy milk are usually treated with epinephrine contained in an auto-injector such as an Epi-Pen.