Help for Milk Allergies

Eight major food items are responsible for about 90 percent of all food-related allergic reactions. Milk is one of those eight items, along with fish, shellfish, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat.

Milk Allergies

(Pixabay / couleur)

Milk allergies mostly affect children, but they can persist into adulthood. In some cases, they can even develop in adulthood for the first time. Milk allergy symptoms can include gastrointestinal problems (gas, vomiting, diarrhea), hay fever, and hives.

Lactose Intolerance or Milk Allergy?

Many people mistake milk allergy for lactose intolerance. Indeed, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. Like milk allergy, lactose intolerance can cause stomach problems—including flatulence, bloating, and cramping. With lactose intolerance, discomfort will usually occur shortly after eating or drinking milk-related products. Lactose intolerance will not lead to the skin problems or hay fever symptoms that result from a milk allergy.

The causes of lactose intolerance and milk allergy are dynamically different. Lactose intolerance occurs because the digestive system does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase. Lactase is responsible for processing the sugar in milk—which is known as lactose. If your body cannot digest lactose properly, you’ll end up with the stomach discomfort associated with lactose intolerance.

Allergies stem from a problem with the immune system. The immune system is hardwired to fight off intruders such as germs and bacteria. Allergies occur when the body mistakes something harmless—such as milk protein—for a dangerous intruder. The body then goes on the offense, attempting to fight off milk proteins by releasing chemicals into the body. The chemicals wreak havoc on the body, leading to uncomfortable allergy symptoms.

What Can be Done?

For those with lactose intolerance, there are a lot of lactose-free alternatives, including lactose-free milk, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt.

People with milk allergy can try to steer clear of dairy products. This can be tricky because milk-based ingredients are found in many foods, including some unsuspecting ones such as certain types of salad dressing, baked goods, margarine, and nougat. If you don’t want to constantly avoid milk products, you can consider sublingual immunotherapy for food allergy treatment.

Sublingual immunotherapy is similar to allergy shots except that allergen extracts are taken as under-the-tongue allergy drops instead of as injections, providing no-hassle milk allergy treatment. The allergy drops are safer than shots so they can be taken at home. The sublingual immunotherapy drops can desensitize patients to dozens of the most prevalent foods, including milk products.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.