Cow milk allergy and lactose intolerance are often confused with each other, but they are not the same thing. If the first one can often be fatal, the second one only causes discomfort. Experts believe that both can be kept under control with a certain lifestyle. What is cow milk Allergy and how to protect against it?
Food allergy is the immune response to a particular food protein. When the protein is ingested, an allergic reaction can be triggered, including a range of symptoms, from mild symptoms (rashes, urticaria, itching, edema, etc.) to severe symptoms (difficulty breathing, wheezing, fainting, etc.).
Intolerance does not involve the immune system. Instead of being digested and absorbed, lactose remains in the intestines and nourishes the bacteria that release the acids that cause the symptoms such as nausea, cramps, and bloating
What is the cow milk allergy?
Allergy to cow milk is common in infants and children.
Symptoms can range from mild forms, such as itching and rashes, to severe ones, such as anaphylaxis.
Therefore, it is recommended that people with milk allergy have quick access to an epinephrine injection (such as an EpiPen) at all times.
To prevent such a reaction, strict avoidance of cow’s milk products is essential.
Always read the ingredient label, because milk proteins are found in many commercial products such as chocolate, pastries, and many others.
Approximately 3% of children under the age of three are allergic to milk. Infants who develop an allergy do this in their first year of life.
Sensitivity to cow milk varies from person to person. Some people have a severe reaction after they have ingested a small amount. Others have only a slight reaction after ingesting a moderate amount of milk. Allergic reactions to milk can be severe and life-threatening.
Cow milk is made up of lots of different components, proteins (such as casein and whey), carbohydrate (lactose), and fats.
Allergic reaction occurs when the immune system considers proteins in cow milk as threat, when in fact they should be harmless.
It then releases chemicals such as histamine and triggers the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Cow milk allergy VS lactose intolerance
People can develop lactose intolerance when the bowel is affected due to a disease, surgery, or certain medications. In these cases, lactose intolerance may be temporary or permanent. Sometimes it can also be installed after an episode of gastroenteritis. In rare cases, lactose intolerance affects children at birth. In this case, the person remains lactose intolerant throughout his life.
There are different tests for cow milk allergy and lactose intolerance, so it’s important to discuss your symptoms in detail with your doctor who will decide which tests are best suited to get the right diagnosis.
Because cow milk allergy and lactose intolerance are caused by two different problems, there are different ways to manage them.
If a person is allergic to cow milk, he must completely remove the protein from cow milk from the diet, and that’s because a small amount can trigger an allergic reaction.
Initially, lactose intolerance could be managed by completely removing proteins from cow milk from the diet. However, an entirely dairy-free diet is rarely needed in the long run.
Most people with lactose intolerance have the ability to digest a certain amount of lactose because it still retains a low level of lactase enzyme.
How to protect against cow milk allergy?
The most effective treatment is to avoid complete exposure to milk and derivatives over a variable period of time, depending on the severity of the initial symptoms of the cow milk allergy.
It can be up to the age of 2 years of avoidance of dairy products, but rare cases of this allergy can perpetuate in adult life. Instead of cow milk, partial or total hydrolysed formulas, soybean or rice milk, and tofu can be used.
For allergy signs and symptoms, antihistamines may be administered at doses appropriate to the age and weight of the patient.
There is also the possibility that, after the age of 4-5 years, when the immune system matures enough to remember the “lesson”, a desensitization is made on cow milk.
While the best treatment is prevention, we recommend breastfeeding in case of infants who develop cow milk allergy, and if there is a history of allergic disease in the family, we recommend a slower diet diversification and under medical supervision.
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