Milk allergy or lactose intolerance?

Milk allergy or lactose intolerance?

You may not know it, but you may be among the many people who suffer from diarrhea, gas or discomfort within a few hours after consuming dairy.

It's called lactose intolerance. It's usually hereditary with at least one parent with the same problem. Most people can often tolerate small amounts of dairy without symptoms developing.  Dairy can be enjoyed in greater quantities by choosing predigested milk or taking an enzyme replacement.

Almost everyone in the world is born with the enzyme lactase which is necessary to break down lactose. It is located in the intestinal so they can absorb the nutrients in breast milk and milk-based formulas.

Families from many parts of Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, find that the enzyme fades away after 7 or 8 years of age.

That enzyme can also be temporarily damaged with an intestinal infection where the virus, or bacteria disrupts the intestinal surface. The same is true for those with celiac disease where gluten has injured the surface. But after the infection is over or the gluten is removed, the enzyme usually returns within 4 weeks or so and lactose can be digested again.

Milk Allergy     

A milk allergy is a reaction to the protein in milk unlike lactose which is the sugar in milk. Symptoms may include diarrhea, discomfort like lactose intolerance, but you can also have vomiting or a rash.

There are several proteins in milk , including casein and whey, that can cause an allergic reaction.  

In simple terms, an allergy is where gamma globulins recognize a foreign protein and create a forceful response against it to fight it off. 

The symptoms will reappear whenever the body comes in contact with even a very small amount of that protein. Expert label reading and strict avoidance are generally necessary to keep patients feeling well.

Milk allergy mainly affects babies and most will outgrow it by 3 years of age.

Bottom Line:

People can have different problems with milk. Lactose intolerance can cause diarrhea, bloating, discomfort, and gas–but never vomiting. Milk allergy can cause vomiting or a rash. And others have problems with milk for a variety of reasons. But for most everyone else, milk can provide an important source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D.