Is it Lactose Intolerance or a Food Allergy?

When someone is offered a glass of milk, and they raise their hands and say “Sorry, I can’t have milk”, you might automatically assume that the person is lactose intolerant. However, they may just be allergic to milk.

But wait! Isn’t lactose intolerance and a milk allergy the same thing?

Actually, they are quite different. While both ailments could lead to a strong recommendation to stay away from milk, the two conditions have different symptoms and properties. If milk has made you sick for a long time, you can find out if you are lactose intolerant, or if you have a milk allergy.

Dr. Mayank Shukla is passionate about providing the most relevant and accurate information to patients everywhere. While it is easy to confuse these two milk-defying conditions, our friendly staff members want you to have the real facts. For more information on how you can seek allergy treatment in New York City, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Shukla and his expert team.

What Causes Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a digestive condition in which an individual does not have enough lactase, which is an enzyme that successfully breaks down lactose. Lactose is the sugary substance found in milk, cream, and other dairy products.

By not being able to produce enough lactase, your body starts to suffer negatively from the lactose ingested. The inability to break lactose down can cause a slew of digestive problems ranging from tummy aches to toxicity.

Another key difference between lactose intolerance and a milk allergy is that lactose intolerance is far more common, and can start to show its signs at any stage of life. It can take years to develop in your body, which is why some people do not notice their lactose intolerance until adulthood.
The symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

  • Bloating and painful gas
  • Nausea
  • Stomach aches
  • Diarrhea

Typically, if you are lactose intolerant, you will start to feel these symptoms about 30 minutes to an hour after you consume milk. Try to judge your reactions and weigh them against the symptoms of a milk allergy to see which condition you fall under.

What Causes a Milk Allergy?

A milk allergy acts a lot like other food allergies. It is classified as a “true” food allergy, and instead of being caused by a lack of lactase in the digestive system, it instead rears its head as an allergic reaction to the protein of milk itself.

Contrary to lactose intolerance, a milk allergy typically shows up early in life, and it is hard to combat. It remains a constant presence throughout childhood and adulthood. It is far less common than lactose intolerance, and is not as prevalent of an allergy as other foods, such as those against nuts and gluten.

Usually, a milk allergy only refers to cow’s milk. Goat’s milk can be consumed by those with a regular milk allergy. However, Dr. Mayank Shukla recommends having a full consultation with your physician before trying other forms of milk as a substitute.

The symptoms of a typical milk allergy include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rashes
  • Stomach aches
  • Lip or throat swelling
  • Trouble breathing

Milk allergy symptoms are typically much more severe than the symptoms of lactose intolerance. This is one of the biggest indicators that a doctor will use in order to properly diagnose a milk allergy versus lactose intolerance. Milk allergies are most common in infants and children, but can be prominent within anyone of any age. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is most common in the elderly, but again can develop at any time.

Allergy Treatment in New York City

Have you been reacting poorly to milk products lately? Does dairy give you a stomach ache? Depending on the type and severity of your symptoms, you could be lactose intolerant – or you could have a true milk allergy. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Dr. Mayank Shukla proudly serves the Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn areas for your ease of convenience. Don’t hesitate to visit our website or give us a call at (917) 924-6383 to set an appointment. We look forward to meeting you!

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