When Harmony Is Hard To Come By: Lactose Intolerance Or Milk Allergy?

It can be a challenge to distinguish lactose intolerance from a milk allergy, because symptoms can be similar. Milk allergies cause the body to react quicker, often within a few minutes. Generally, lactose intolerance is the impaired ability to digest lactose, or milk sugar. Lactose is digested by an enzyme called lactase, which is found in the small intestines of most people. The lactase turns lactose into glucose and galactose, which are easier to absorb into the bloodstream. Many people don’t produce enough lactase to adequately digest milk sugar. These individuals are “intolerant” to milk sugar. If you’re lactose intolerant, you’re not alone. Lactose intolerance is common, affecting more than half the world’s population. Consult your Doctor for more information.

Lactose Intolerance Facts

Cause

  • Insufficient lactase in digestive system to break down milk sugars.

Age

  • Starts later in childhood, but most common in adults. May be present in infants in the form of colic. As adults age they become more prone to lactose intolerance.

Ethnicity

  • Those of African, Asian, Hispanic and Jewish descent have a greater incidence of lactose intolerance.

Symptoms

  • Present in digestive system only and include abdominal bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, stomach cramps and occasionally, vomiting.

Milk Allergy Facts

Cause

  • Hypersensitive immune reaction to food proteins where the immune system believes that one or more of the milk proteins are harmful.

Age

  • Usually starts in early infancy. Common in children, who often outgrow it. Occasionally, adults develop it even if they did not have the allergy in childhood.

Symptoms

  • Usually immediate and affecting more than one part of the body
  • Digestion: Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea
  • Skin: Swelling, eczema and hives
  • Airways: Wheezing, coughing, congestion and a runny nose
  • Anaphylaxis: Occurs more frequently with peanut allergies. Rare as a milk allergy reaction, but it does happen. Also known as anaphylactic shock, this life-threatening event causes an extreme drop in blood pressures and closes the airways. Milk should be strictly avoided and emergency epinephrine should be kept on hand.