About milk allergy
What is milk allergy?
Milk allergy is an abnormal response by the body's immune system to milk and products containing milk. It's one of the most common food allergies in children. Cow's milk is the usual cause of milk allergy, but milk from sheep, goats, buffalo and other mammals also can cause a reaction.
An allergic reaction usually occurs soon after you or your child consumes milk. Signs and symptoms of milk allergy range from mild to severe and can include wheezing, vomiting, hives and digestive problems. Milk allergy can also cause anaphylaxis — a severe, life-threatening reaction.
Avoiding milk and milk products is the primary treatment for milk allergy. Fortunately, most children outgrow milk allergy. Those who don't outgrow it may need to continue to avoid milk products.
What are the symptoms for milk allergy?
Milk allergy symptoms, which differ from person to person, occur a few minutes to a few hours after you or your child drinks milk or eats milk products.
Immediate signs and symptoms of milk allergy might include:
- Itching or tingling feeling around the lips or mouth
- Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
- Coughing or shortness of breath
Signs and symptoms that may take more time to develop include:
- Loose stools or diarrhea, which may contain blood
- Abdominal cramps
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Colic, in babies
Milk allergy or milk intolerance?
A true milk allergy differs from milk protein intolerance and lactose intolerance. Unlike milk allergy, intolerance doesn't involve the immune system. Milk intolerance requires different treatment from true milk allergy.
Common signs and symptoms of milk protein intolerance or lactose intolerance include digestive problems, such as bloating, gas or diarrhea, after consuming milk or products containing milk.
Milk allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that narrows the airways and can block breathing. Milk is the third most common food — after peanuts and tree nuts — to cause anaphylaxis.
If you or your child has a reaction to milk, tell your doctor, no matter how mild the reaction. Tests can help confirm milk allergy, so you can avoid future and potentially worse reactions.
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and requires treatment with an epinephrine (adrenaline) shot (EpiPen, Adrenaclick, others) and a trip to the emergency room. Signs and symptoms start soon after milk consumption and can include:
- Constriction of airways, including a Swollen throat that makes it difficult to breathe
- Facial flushing
- Shock, with a marked drop in blood pressure
When to see doctor
See your doctor or an allergist if you or your child experiences milk allergy symptoms shortly after consuming milk. If possible, see your doctor during the allergic reaction to help the doctor make a diagnosis. Seek emergency treatment if you or your child develops signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis.
What are the causes for milk allergy?
All true food allergies are caused by an immune system malfunction. If you have milk allergy, your immune system identifies certain milk proteins as harmful, triggering the production of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to neutralize the protein (allergen). The next time you come in contact with these proteins, IgE antibodies recognize them and signal your immune system to release histamine and other chemicals, causing a range of allergic signs and symptoms.
There are two main proteins in cow's milk that can cause an allergic reaction:
- Casein, found in the solid part (curd) of milk that curdles
- Whey, found in the liquid part of milk that remains after milk curdles
You or your child may be allergic to only one milk protein or to both. These proteins may be hard to avoid because they're also in some processed foods. And most people who react to cow's milk will react to sheep's, goat's and buffalo's milk. Less commonly, people allergic to cow's milk are also allergic to soy milk.
Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES)
A food allergen can also cause what's sometimes called a delayed food allergy. Although any food can be a trigger, milk is one of the most common. The reaction, commonly vomiting and diarrhea, usually occurs within hours after eating the trigger rather than within minutes.
Unlike some food allergies, FPIES usually resolves over time. As with milk allergy, preventing an FPIES reaction involves avoiding milk and milk products.
What are the treatments for milk allergy?
The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid milk and milk proteins. This can be difficult because milk is a common ingredient in many foods. Also, some people with milk allergy can tolerate milk in some forms, such as milk that's heated in baked goods, or in some processed foods, such as yogurt. Talk to your doctor about what to avoid.
Despite your best efforts, if you or your child accidentally consumes milk, medications such as antihistamines may reduce a mild allergic reaction.
If you or your child has a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), you may need an emergency injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) and a trip to the emergency room. If you're at risk of having a severe reaction, you or your child may need to carry injectable epinephrine (EpiPen, Adrenaclick, others) at all times. Have your doctor or pharmacist demonstrate how to use this device so that you're prepared for an emergency.
What are the risk factors for milk allergy?
Certain factors may increase the risk of developing milk allergy:
- Other allergies. Many children allergic to milk also have other allergies. Milk allergy may develop before other allergies.
- Atopic dermatitis. Children who have atopic dermatitis — a common, chronic inflammation of the skin — are much more likely to develop a food allergy.
- Family history. A person's risk of a food allergy increases if one or both parents have a food allergy or another type of allergy or allergic disease — such as hay fever, asthma, hives or eczema.
- Age. Milk allergy is more common in children. As they age, their digestive systems mature, and their bodies are less likely to react to milk.
Is there a cure/medications for milk allergy?
Milk allergies are atypical immune reactions to milk and products containing milk. One of the most prevalent food allergies in kids is this one. Although reactions can also be triggered by milk from sheep, goats, buffalo, and other mammals, cow's milk is the most frequent cause of milk allergies.
Immediately after ingesting milk, you or your child often have an allergic reaction. Some of the mild to severe symptoms of a milk allergy include wheezing, vomiting, rashes, and digestive problems. It is also possible for a milk allergy to result in anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that might be fatal.
1. Avoiding milk and milk proteins is the only method to stop an allergic response from occurring. Because milk is a prevalent element in many cuisines, this might be challenging.
2. Additionally, some individuals who are allergic to milk can accept milk in specific forms, such as warm milk used in baked products or in some processed meals, like yogurt.
3. What to avoid should be discussed with your healthcare professional.
4. You may require an emergency injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) and a trip to the emergency hospital if you or your kid experiences a serious allergic response (anaphylaxis).
5. You or your child may need to always keep injectable epinephrine (EpiPen, Adrenaclick, etc.) available if you or they are at risk of having a severe response.
Hives,Wheezing, Itching or tingling feeling around, the lips or mouth,Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat,Coughing or shortness of breath,Vomiting
Immune system malfunction when the immune system recognises specific milk proteins as dangerous if you have a milk allergy