Cow’s milk allergy is one of the most common food allergies in infants and adults, but many people don’t know what causes it or how it presents. Milk allergy is sometimes confused with lactose intolerance, but although these conditions are both triggered by the consumption of dairy products, they don’t share the same causes or symptoms. They also require different treatments.
When someone has a milk allergy, their immune system looks at certain proteins in cow’s milk as invaders. To neutralize this perceived danger, it triggers a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. lactose intoleranceon the other hand, is rooted in problems with the breakdown and digestion of lactose, the main sugar in dairy products.
Since milk allergy usually manifests itself in infancy, it is important for parents and caregivers to recognize symptoms early. We’ve created a milk allergy guide to help you better understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this common condition.
What is milk allergy?
According to that National Institute for Excellence in Health and Nursing (opens in new tab)Milk allergy is an immune-mediated allergic reaction to one or more proteins in cow’s milk, such as casein and whey. There are three different types of milk allergy, depending on the underlying immune mechanism and the timing of symptoms: (Ig)E-mediated, mixed IgE and non-IgE-mediated.
Immunoglobulin (Ig)E-mediated allergy occurs when a person starts producing serum-specific IgE antibodies immediately after exposure to trigger proteins. This type of milk allergy results in immediate and consistently reproducible symptoms. Side effects typically appear up to two hours after consuming dairy products, but usually within 20-30 minutes.
In non-IgE-mediated food allergy, no specific antibodies are produced and reactions to this type of milk allergy are typically delayed. They usually manifest between two and 72 hours after ingesting cow’s milk. Mixed IgE and non-IgE allergic reactions involve a combination of IgE and non-IgE reactions and are usually delayed.
Lactose intolerance occurs when your body cannot properly digest lactose. Lactose cannot be absorbed by the body in its original form – it must first be broken down into glucose and galactose. The digestive enzyme responsible for this is called lactase. One of the main reasons for lactose intolerance is the inability to produce enough of this compound. This causes undigested cow’s milk sugar to reach the large intestine, where it is absorbed by intestinal bacteria. This process increases the amount of fluid and gas in the gastrointestinal system, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, and fatigue.
It is estimated that between 2% and 3% of children under the age of three are allergic to cow’s milk. According to that National Institute for Excellence in Health and Nursing (opens in new tab)Risk factors include sex (boys are twice as likely to have milk allergy as girls), atopic diseases (such as asthma and atopic eczema), a family history of food allergy and/or family history of atopy. Some can also cross-react with proteins in goat, sheep, horse, camel, and buffalo milk.
Milk allergy: causes and symptoms
According to that National Institutes of Health and Care Excellence (opens in new tab)The underlying mechanism behind milk allergy is not known, but it is believed that various genetic and environmental factors may play a role. Immunoglobulin (Ig)E-mediated cow’s milk allergy is characterized by the production of specific IgE antibodies in response to cow’s milk proteins. These antibodies bind to the surface of body cells and cause the release of cell mediators (e.g. histamine) that directly trigger the onset of clinical symptoms. Whereas non-IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy is believed to be mediated by defective T cells – a type of white blood cell essential for the functioning of a healthy human immune system.
Corresponding The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (opens in new tab)Common symptoms of milk allergy include hives (an itchy rash), upset stomach, vomiting, bloody stools, and in the most severe cases, anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include swelling of the airways, decreased ability to breathe, and a sudden drop in blood pressure that causes dizziness and fainting.
How can you treat a milk allergy?
If you suspect your child may have a milk allergy, it is important to consult a doctor and get a proper diagnosis. Your doctor will ask you questions to better understand your child’s medical history. They may also run tests that can detect the presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, such as B. Skin prick or blood tests.
Your doctor may also ask your permission to perform a test called an oral food challenge. Under close medical supervision, your child will be given small amounts of a substance containing milk proteins to see if a reaction develops. Your doctor can confirm the diagnosis based on all the measurements collected.
There are no effective pharmaceutical treatments for cow’s milk allergy. The only way to effectively manage this condition is to avoid dairy products and foods that contain cow’s milk proteins.
Under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, food manufacturers in the United States are required by law to indicate the presence of cow’s milk and cow’s milk components on their ingredient labels.
If your baby is too small to eat solid food, your doctor or nutritionist will recommend the most appropriate formula for you. To prevent anaphylaxis, patients with milk allergy (or their caregivers) are advised to carry an EpiPen: an auto-injector that contains epinephrine (adrenaline). Immediate use of EpiPen is the only treatment that can stop the life-threatening symptoms of anaphylactic shock.
Another dietary change that may help some with dairy allergies is using baked cow’s milk. Baked milk refers to milk that has been heavily heated to destroy the structure of the allergen proteins. results of a Study 2017 (opens in new tab) suggest that the majority of children under the age of two can tolerate baked dairy products in their diet. Some studies (opens in new tab) suggest that drinking baked milk might help them overcome their milk allergy faster. But according to a review published in The clinical and experimental allergy (opens in new tab) Journal, there is little evidence to support this claim.
Can you outgrow a milk allergy?
According to a published review nutrient (opens in new tab) Journal, up to 75% of affected children will overcome a milk allergy by the age of five. Milk allergy symptoms are most likely to persist in people who have high levels of cow’s milk antibodies in their blood. Your doctor can advise you if and when it is the right time to reintroduce dairy products into your child’s diet.
As children outgrow their milk allergy, they begin to tolerate lightly cooked milk and fermented milk products. The safe amount of cow’s milk often increases gradually. However, the speed of recovery and the amounts tolerated can vary significantly from person to person. To minimize the likelihood of side effects, it is always good practice to reintroduce dairy products after consulting a doctor or nutritionist.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice.
What is a milk allergy? Source link What is a milk allergy?