What is it?
Milk allergy or lactose intolerance?

What are the symptoms to milk allergy?
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
Milk allergy or lactose intolerance? Compare.
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The difference
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It is very important to know the difference between food allergy and food intolerance. These terms are often used interchangeably when there is an adverse reaction to food, but they do not mean the same thing.

Food Allergy Occurs when

  • the body's immune system reacts to a food protein
  • The offending food triggers an allergic reaction
  • i.e. people with a milk allergy must avoid all milk protein

Food Intolerance

  • Is an adverse reaction to a food that does not involve the immune system
  • Triggered by a physical reaction to a food or food additive
  • i.e. lactose intolerance

See the table below to compare.


What are the symptoms of milk allergy?

An allergy is caused when an allergen (for a list of other common allergens click here) enters our body system. The symptoms of a milk protein allergy fall into 3 types of reactions:

Skin Reactions:
  • Itchy red rash
  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Swelling of lips, mouth, tongue, face or throat
  • Allergic "Shiners" (black eyes)
Stomach and Intestinal Reactions:
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Diarrhoea (usually very runny)
  • Vomiting
  • Gas/wind
  • Cramps

Nose, Throat and Lung Reactions:

  • Runny Nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery and/or Itchy eyes
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of Breath

The milk allergy symptoms are not only restricted to people suffering from milk allergy. Many other people can show these symptoms to basically any other immune reaction. This could be from a simple mosquito bite to a drug reaction such as penicillin. Common food allergies, all with similar symptoms include sea shells, peanuts, banana and eggs.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

The symptoms listed below are caused by the fermentation of lactose. Since lactose is not broken into glucose, and hence left unabsorbed by the body, the perfect conditions found in the intestines help the lactose to ferment and this leads to the formation of gases. A particular gas is methane that is usually the cause for the pain and aggressive flatulence.

Common symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • cramps
  • bloating gas,
  • wind diarrhoea, which may begin from after half an hour to 2 hours after eating or drinking foods containing lactose.

Persons who suffer from lactase deficiency and do not avoid lactose may suffer from weight loss and malnutrition.

The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of lactose each individual can tolerate. Some of the symptoms may be similar to those of milk allergy but milk allergies can cause the body to react quicker, more often within a few minutes.

Compare the symptoms of lactose intolerance with those of milk allergy.


What do you have lactose intolerance or milk allergy?

Table of Comparisons.

Below is a table of comparisons between MA and LI. It is important to establish under which category you fall to be able to eliminate the wrong food product. In some cases a person can be subjected to both.



Milk Allergy

Lactose Intolerance


hypersensitive immune reaction to milk proteins

insufficient lactase enzyme being produced to break down the sugar lactose


starts usually from early infancy

starts later in early childhood but most common in adults


usually immediate and affecting more that one part of the body:
digestion: nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea
skin: swelling eczema, hives
airways: wheezing, coughing, congestion and a runny nose
anaphylaxis: this is very rare but it is a fact that some individuals may experience life threatening anaphylactic attacks. Strict avoidance of all traces of milk and all its derivatives is the only way to deal with this type of allergy. Some people choose to keep milk products out of the house. Emergency adrenaline (epinephrine) should be prescribed and kept within close proximity at all times.

symptoms with LI affect the digestive system only: diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, gas, wind, stomach cramps.

The magnitude of the above symptoms are inversely related to the amount of lactase produced.



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Advise for pregnant women!

During pregnancy your immune system is on the alert! It is a war zone for it and they tolerate absolutely no foreign body in there. The immune system is doing it to safeguard the foetus.

Each one of us have some amount of antibodies against everything, including good things. However, since the level is so low it does not effect the immune system.

But in pregnant women these level increase and may all of a sudden go over the limit and start affecting them when they eat something related to that particular antibody.

My advise for pregnant women is to keep away from food that has in the past reacted to them, and avoid hyper allergenic foods, such as seashell food.

Allergens may be proteins!

Any protein may trigger the immunity system to react against it.

It is possible that one day you enjoy a plate of King Prawns and the next time you touch them you are violently sick!!

Cause for such a change? Unknown, but this is mostly common in pregnant women when the immunity system is high.




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