Lactose intolerance and milk allergy are two conditions that seem similar and many people think they are the same. But this is not the case. Different mechanisms cause and affect the body.

Let's clarify today!

Lactose intolerance involves the digestive system : if you are intolerant, it is because your body does not produce lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose by dividing it into glucose and galactose. Lactose is the main sugar in milk and is used in many recipes as an excipient. In intolerant subjects, instead of being digested normally in the stomach and small intestine, lactose moves to the colon, where it is broken down by bacteria and causes all the symptoms we know ... that is bloating, gas, diarrhea and various other annoyances already described here .

All these symptoms are certainly annoying and can cause a different life from the others but they are not directly dangerous for the organism.

Milk allergy, on the other hand, involves the immune system and is therefore more serious . If you are allergic, your body reacts to the proteins in milk and other dairy products as if they were dangerous invaders of the organism, enemies.

Indeed, upon contact with a protein or other milk product, your body reacts by releasing substances that cause allergic symptoms as in other allergy cases. This allergic reaction can be mild (manifesting as a rash) or severe (difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness). Milk allergy is one of the most common allergies, especially in children. As many as 2 out of 100 children under the age of 4 are allergic to milk.

Symptoms of a milk allergy:

Some symptoms of lactose intolerance and milk allergy may be the same. These mainly include digestive system disorders including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea; sometimes accompanied by vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Swelling
  • Gas

In addition, dairy allergy can cause a reaction in other parts of the body, even creating skin and lung problems:

  • Rash
  • Urticaria
  • Swelling, often in the lips and face
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Blood in the stool, especially in children.

Am I intolerant or allergic to milk?

Milk allergy is more common in children (less than 4 years old). As you age, your digestive system is less likely to react to milk but it could happen under the following conditions:

1. You have other allergies

2. You have eczema

3. One or both of your parents have food allergies or other medical conditions such as hay fever, eczema or asthma

The answer is in the test.

The first thing to do in case of symptoms similar to those of an allergy is to go to the family doctor. He will review your medical history to understand the symptoms and how your body may react to dairy products. Then you will be tested to confirm whether it is lactose intolerance or milk allergy.

To find out about the tests available for lactose intolerance you can read this other article on our blog .

Let's see instead what are the tests for milk allergy :

Prick test: A small drop of liquid containing milk protein (the allergen) is placed under the skin on the forearm or back with the aid of a painless pin. If a raised bump appears surrounded by itchy red skin, a dairy allergy is likely.
Blood test: The amount of certain antibodies in the blood is measured.

Caution, both tests can return false positives. Always seek assistance from an allergist who will be able to explain the results.

If an allergy is still suspected but not confirmed, your doctor might give you an oral test. You will be made to eat different foods that may or may not contain milk in increasing amounts to see if you react to food that contains milk.

Lactose intolerance is manageable by limiting the amount of food and drinks we consume or by supplementing the enzyme lactase orally. Lactose allergy is not manageable, in the sense that allergens must necessarily be avoided.

In healthy subjects, approximately 6000 FCC ALU of lactase enzyme is required to digest a 120 ml glass of milk. However, not being sure of how much lactose is present in your meal and not knowing the exact state of your body, if you want to guarantee yourself a pleasant meal containing lactose, you can take advantage of LACTOSOLUTION, the innovative lactase enzyme that is presented on the market as the solution. ideal for all lactose intolerance problems. With a high concentration of lactase enzyme (15000 FCC ALU) packed in a small tablet, you will return to feeling free and normal.

Living with dairy allergy

If you have a dairy allergy, you will need to avoid all dairy and other foods that contain dairy and milk protein.

Rule number one: always read food labels. Look for milk, milk proteins, powdered milk, derivatives in general and anything that suggests the presence of milk proteins.

Milk proteins are found in many foods that you would not expect. Some canned tuna, energy drinks, and even chewing gum contain them.

And don't eat lactose-reduced foods if you have a dairy allergy. They still contain milk proteins which can cause allergic reactions.

In case your allergy is well managed with anti-allergic drugs and you are able to try your hand at meals containing milk proteins, a tablet of LACTOSOLUTION before the meal can help you in an important way to have no problems.

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Dr.ssa Marina Putzolu

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