A milk allergy can make mealtimes frustrating: a large number of commonly eaten foods use milk or milk products like whey, and avoiding them can be a challenge. For individuals who have a milk allergy, the symptoms can range from mild to dangerous – in rare cases, milk can cause anaphylaxis. Dealing with milk allergies takes patience and effort, but avoiding the unpleasant symptoms associated with this allergy is very worthwhile.
What are Milk Allergies?
Milk allergies are most commonly found in children, who often outgrow them by the time they reach three years of age. However, individuals of all ages can experience milk allergies and intolerance to lactose. Milk allergies are not limited to cow’s milk, either: sufferers can experience allergic reactions to sheep, goat, buffalo and sometimes soy milk.
Symptoms of allergic reactions can appear from a few minutes to several hours after consuming milk or milk products. Common reactions include vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, hives and stomach cramps.
Children and adults should see a doctor if they have severe reactions to milk shortly after consumption, as those allergies can be more serious. Any individual who experiences shortness of breath, a tightening of the throat or loses consciousness should receive emergency medical treatment.
Treating Milk Allergies
Although it can be difficult to avoid milk products in many common foods, this is the best way to reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction. Keep antihistamines on hand in case of accidental consumption to help relieve symptoms and the discomfort caused by milk.
For individuals with severe milk allergies, such as anaphylaxis, keep an epinephrine pen on hand. Epi-pens deliver a shot of adrenaline to the body, which can stop anaphylaxis from becoming fatal.
Eating Well with Milk Allergies
One of the most difficult parts of a milk allergy for many individuals is the dietary restriction. All food with milk contents, including whey, milk fat, butter, milk proteins and other dairy products must be avoided. Food like cheese, ice cream and coffee creamers can all trigger reactions.
However, it is possible to find substitute foods for individuals with milk allergies. Not all milk allergy sufferers are allergic to sheep or goat milk, which can often be purchased at specialty stores or local farms. Soymilk makes an excellent alternative to milk, as do almond milks, coconut milk and rice milk.
Many common milk products, such as milk for cooking and drinking, ice cream and cheese, can be found made with milk substitutes like soy and coconut milk. These products can often be purchased in the organics section of a grocery store, or specialty ordered.
Finding food substitutes can be a challenge at first. However, there are a number of resources for individuals with milk allergies that can allow people to eat well and stay healthy.
Milk allergies are a frustrating condition for many individuals, especially parents. Helping a child deal with food allergies takes time, effort and patience, as well as the willingness to seek out alternative food sources. Although immunotherapy has not been proven effective as a treatment for milk allergies, research is being done to find solutions for people with allergies.