What are the Symptoms of Being Allergic to Dairy?

An allergy to dairy, known as a dairy allergy, is an immune system response to proteins found in milk and dairy products. Symptoms of a dairy allergy can manifest within minutes to a couple of hours after consuming dairy and may include:

  1. Gastrointestinal Symptoms:
    • Abdominal cramps and pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea and vomiting
  2. Skin Reactions:
    • Hives (itchy, raised welts on the skin)
    • Eczema (itchy, red, and inflamed skin)
    • Itchy skin or rash
  3. Respiratory Symptoms:
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Sneezing
    • Coughing
    • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  4. Oral Allergy Syndrome:
    • Itchy mouth, throat, or lips
    • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
  5. Anaphylaxis:
    • In severe cases, a dairy allergy can trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction characterized by:
      • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
      • Swelling of the face, throat, and tongue
      • Rapid drop in blood pressure
      • Loss of consciousness

It’s important to differentiate between a dairy allergy and lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products, due to a deficiency of the enzyme lactase. Symptoms of lactose intolerance primarily involve gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, but do not typically involve an immune system response.

If you suspect a dairy allergy or experience symptoms after consuming dairy, it’s crucial to seek medical evaluation and diagnosis. Allergies can be confirmed through various tests, including skin prick tests and blood tests. If a dairy allergy is confirmed, strict avoidance of dairy and dairy-containing products is essential to prevent allergic reactions. An allergist or healthcare professional can provide guidance on managing the allergy and may prescribe epinephrine auto-injectors in case of severe allergic reactions.

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