Know the Difference: Milk Allergy vs. Dairy Allergy vs. Lactose Intolerance

Milk allergy should not be confused with lactose intolerance. Milk allergy is a food allergy, which is an overreaction of the immune system to a specific food protein. When the food protein is ingested, it can trigger an allergic reaction that may include a range of symptoms from mild symptoms (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) to severe symptoms (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.). Reactions to milk can be severe and life-threatening (read more about anaphylaxis).

Milk allergy is sometimes referred to as dairy allergy, but this term should be used with caution. Dairy is a category of products that contain cow’s milk. Since this is a product category – not a single ingredient (such as milk) – it is not listed in ingredient statements on processed foods. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires that products containing milk list it as an ingredient, and so when teaching others about this allergy, using the term milk instead of dairy can help them better read ingredient labels. The term "dairy allergy" can also cause confusion with egg allergy since eggs are usually located near the dairy product case in the grocery store. Using the specific term – milk allergy – helps to eliminate this confusion.

Unlike food allergies, food intolerances do not involve the immune system. People who are lactose intolerant are missing the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. As a result, individuals who are lactose intolerant are unable to digest these foods, and may experience symptoms such as nausea, cramps, gas, bloating and diarrhea. While lactose intolerance can cause great discomfort, it is not life-threatening.

Member for

49 years

Submitted by Romona Roberts (not verified) on Tue, 01/23/2018 - 02:57

Permalink

I ate a couple of spoons of lactase ice cream and a few hours later I drunk a half cup of hole milk my stomachs and back is tight feel I need to move my bowel nothing passing gas often.

Not true! She shouldn't drink milk at all if she has a dairy allergy. And some of us have an allergy to whey not casein, and there's more of that in skim milk as it's the liquid part of milk.

Thank you! This is exactly the information I was looking for. I've been trying to find out if it's possible to have a whey allergy but NOT have a casein allergy, and visa versa. You said that "some of us have an allergy to whey and not casein." Do you happen to know of an organization or a website where I could read more about this? Thanks.

Gas bloating cramps are lactose intolerance symptoms not allergies which cause immune response like hives, rash or breathing issues . So avoiding regular milk of any fat content and drinking lactose free should solve the issue. There is a huge difference between sensitivities and intolerances and allergy

Member for

49 years

Submitted by Ty W (not verified) on Wed, 02/14/2018 - 04:45

Permalink

I have always had a hard time explaining to people about my allergy to "cow" milk because they always jump to the conclusion that I am "lactose intolerant" . Not true, not even close, after ingesting milk I get a rash looking whelts/sores inside my mouth, my lips get this numbing tunnelling feeling, my neck swells, "at this point I am drinking Benadryl, because it helps relief some of the swelling, my glands in my neck and arm pits will be tender for up to 62 hours after ingesting the milk. Now I have never noticed any reaction to bread with milk listed in the ingredients (try finding a bread without milk) , my reaction is pretty bad, and seems to be getting worse (my first reaction reaction happened in my early 30s began with an itchy that nearly 10 years later, I feel like I'm going to die. The reaction is all "cow" milk whether it being milk, yogurt, Ice Cream, sour cream, and cheeses, with or without lactose. It's really really hard to not ingest dairy because it's in a lot of stuff, salad dressings, sauses, custards, creams, to make matters worse I am also allergic to cashews, pine nuts and soy.

I know what you mean. I've had a dairy allergy since birth--I'm 53 now. You will likely find that you can tolerate most baked foods with milk as baking something for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or higher alters the protein and so your body won't recognize it as an allergen. I can even tolerate regular Cheez-It, because the cheese is baked in.

Be careful with the dairy products, my daughter is allergic to the casein in the milk and her reactions are similar to yours, plus it also affects her breathing as well, she has had a couple of Anaphylactic episodes and now carries an EpiPen.
Only coconut milks etc are used in her cooking and if she is out to dinner and anything looks even slightly creamy she doesn’t touch it.

I have been trying elimination diet since July 2017 and finally made a list of food that I can have. Please email me if u
You want to know the diet. In one line I can suggest you to try food which has low lectins with no pulses/ legumes, no nuts, no seeds, no grains ( only sorghum, tapioca, lotus seeds, No melons, no gourd family.. Also no gluten, no cow milk. With this diet all your allergies will go..

Member for

49 years

Submitted by Patricia (not verified) on Mon, 01/07/2019 - 23:04

In reply to by Anupam (not verified)

Permalink

Just realizing allergies that may have been causing eczema for my life that if I cut out I could be free of expensive pharmaceutical creams

Member for

49 years

Submitted by kelly (not verified) on Tue, 02/20/2018 - 14:40

Permalink

i have a "dairy" allergy. Any food with any dairy component except eggs gives me hives and itching. Even sourdough bread with lactic acid starter culture causes this problem. Cookies with butter, cakes with buttercream frosting, foods containing whey, foods cooked with butter... literally all dairy. i have to basically eat Asian cuisine or cook at home or i have hives.

Member for

49 years

Submitted by Alex (not verified) on Fri, 03/23/2018 - 00:45

Permalink

I think I might have both an allergy to milk and a lactose intolerance? I got digestive issues first, then a couple days after that, I noticed a rash around my mouth. (similar to the ones I get with my other food allegies) I don’t think I’ve eaten anything that I know I’m allergic to, and it appeared around the time I was having problems drinking milk without getting sick. Is it possible that I developed both at about the same time..?

A board-certified allergist would be the best person to talk to to determine what is happening. If you do not already work with one, AAAAI offers a search tool to find one near you. http://allergist.aaaai.org/find/

Member for

49 years

Submitted by JoAnn (not verified) on Sun, 04/08/2018 - 14:48

Permalink

Our daughter can eat certain aged Cheeses like Medium cheddar for instance,but has a Severe Excema or severe Diarrhea with regular Glass Cows Milk. She eats Baked Milk products as well. What is this and How can I explain this to her School Team. Thanks.

I also have an anaphylactic milk allergy and have since I was an infant. I too can eat some hard cheeses. I've found that I can also have UHT milk, which is ultra-pasteurized. The pasteurization at high temperatures alters the proteins so my immune system doesn't recognize them. They sell this milk at most grocery stores. I buy the Horizon Organic whole milk, but Walmart even has a generic UHT milk, which I also love.

I can also tolerate ghee, which is clarified butter. Ghee is mainly milk fat and the processing alters the proteins. I can't find it in stores, but I order it on Amazon. It's expensive, $13.00 for 9 ounces, but it's worth it to have butter occasionally.

Finding these two items significantly improved the quality of my life. I suggest that anyone who has a milk allergy tries them with extreme caution and discusses it with their doctor first.

You should talk to your doctor about this. The Severe Excema you describe sounds dangerous.

I am lactose intolerant, but *not* allergic to milk. Even small amounts of milk or fresh cheese (cream cheese, mozzarella, feta, American cheese, etc.) will give me gas, diarrhea, etc. However aged cheeses like cheddar and parmesan (drier crumbly cheeses) are fine, because the aging process has removed the lactose.

Member for

49 years

Submitted by Christine C (not verified) on Tue, 04/10/2018 - 20:32

Permalink

I did a food sensitivity test and I got my results back. It says I should avoid cottage cheese, cow's milk and whey. Not really sure what foods would be considered to have whey? It also says that I can have cheddar cheese, goat's milk and mozzarella which if you're sensitive to cow's milk wouldn't you be sensitive to these things as well?

Suspected food allergies should always be evaluated, diagnosed and treated by a qualified medical professional, such as a board-certified allergist. Find out more here:

https://www.foodallergy.org/life-with-food-allergies/food-allergy-101/diagnosis-testing

 

Then, you have a whey allergy, which is the liquid part of milk. You should avoid all foods with cow's milk unless your allergist specifies otherwise. I too have a whey allergy, and I can tolerate UHT milk and heavy cream, which is ultra-pasteurized, meaning it's boiled longer, which alters the whey protein. There are also ultra pasteurized canned whipped cream and other products.

I can tolerate some cheeses, including a small amount of cheddar and Dubliner cheese. It's due to the "cheddering" process, which alters the proteins.

Also, you could, very likely, tolerate other dairy products as long as they're baked at 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes as it alters the proteins. Proceed with the greatest caution and consult your doctor if you try any of these things.

Member for

49 years

Submitted by Eve Daley (not verified) on Sat, 04/14/2018 - 00:27

Permalink

I can't seem to figure out exactly what my allergy is. I have this problem where, whenever I consume milk, my sinuses feel clogged and my throat is filled with mucus. I rarely ever get any of the symptoms listed above. I just get this sick feeling, as if I have a cold, with lots of mucus inside my throat and my mouth. Does anyone have an idea of what exactly this is, or knows of a similar problem?

Add new comment