There are a lot of misconceptions about dairy allergies. One of the major misunderstandings surrounding this allergy in particular is that it is often confused with lactose intolerance.
The Difference between Dairy Allergies and Lactose Intolerance
The first key difference to point out is that a food allergy is different from food intolerance. A true food allergy, in its most severe form, can lead to death. A food intolerance usually only means some form of bodily discomfort.
Lactose intolerance for example, is simply the body’s inability to break down the particular enzyme of the sugar found in milk. Because the body can’t break it down, this makes it hard to digest, leading to bodily discomfort like diarrhea, stomach pains and/or bloating.
A person who truly suffers from dairy allergies will have a more severe reaction. These can manifest as bleeding, asthma, pneumonia and in more severe cases, anaphylaxis (ie, shock). The difference in the body’s reaction lies in the fact that dairy allergies are caused by food allergens, which are invariably proteins. Food allergens are the specific parts of a food that set off allergic reactions in the body.
How can you be sure that you suffer from daily allergies? Following are two simple ways to test.
How to Determine If You Suffer from Dairy Allergies
One of the most common ways to determine if you suffer from dairy allergies is to keep a food diary. This is a vital component of what’s known as the elimination diet.
The basic concept of the elimination diet is to track and eliminate foods you suspect are causing your dairy allergic reactions. This is done over a series of weeks until symptoms decrease and/or dissipate altogether. Foods are gradually re-introduced into the diet to gauge which ones cause dairy allergy symptoms to return. The elimination diet is usually conducted under the guidance of a physician/allergist.
Blood and skin tests are other ways to test for dairy allergies as well. Dairy allergies can present extreme medical problems if not properly diagnosed. Hence, it’s always best to consult a qualified physician about which option diagnosis option is best for you.
The reason it’s important to understand the difference between lactose intolerance and true dairy allergies, is to get properly diagnosed to receive the right treatment.
Dairy Allergies: Avoidance is the Best
Those that have a dairy allergy must avoid the food causing the reaction altogether. If you avoid dairy products, a wide variety of other healthy options are available, eg, soy.
If dairy is accidentally ingested many use an epinephrine. Most are familiar with the EpiPen, for example, which contains epinephrine. It is often required for serious dairy allergy sufferers.
Medical Alert for Sufferers of Dairy Allergies
Dairy allergy sufferers must be vigilant to non-obvious dairy products that can often be found in foods. For example, they may be labeled as natural flavorings or seasonings. As with any food allergy, awareness and knowledge is power.