Milk allergy happens because the immune system mistakenly sees milk protein as something that is dangerous for the body and tries to fight it off. It starts as an allergic reaction causing a child to be fussy and irritable along with an upset stomach and other symptoms.
Breastfeeding lowers the risk of the child developing a milk allergy. In many cases however, the allergy is said to be genetic. Normally, by the time a child reaches the age of three to five years old, the allergy goes away all on its own.
People who have milk allergies should really pay good attention to what they are eating because a lot of foods nowadays are made up of milk and other milk products. A Milk Allergy is different from lactose intolerance and without extra caution, a Milk Allergy may turn into a severe illness due to direct contact with foods that cause it.
Milk Allergy And The Immune System
A person who has a milk allergy reacts to the proteins in the milk. The substance known as Curd which forms the chunks that can be observed in sour milk contains 80% of the milk’s proteins while Whey which is the watery part holds 20% of the milk’s content.
If a person who has allergic reactions to milk eats food that contain milk products, the immune system will fight the milk proteins because it mistakenly sees them as invaders thus harmful to the body. The immune system protects the body from these milk proteins by creating antibodies known as immunoglobulin that trigger the release of chemicals into the body such as histamine.
The release of these chemicals affect the different parts of the body such as the gastrointestinal tract, the skin, the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system which then causes the allergy symptoms like nausea, headache, wheezing, itchy hives and stomachache.
Common Symptoms of Milk Allergy
Just like any other food allergy reactions, the symptoms occur within ten minutes to a couple of hours after eating the food that caused the allergy. The symptoms may sometimes last for less than a day affecting any of these three body systems: the skin, the gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory tract.
Milk allergy manifests in the skin in the form of red rashes, redness and swelling in the areas of the mouth or eczema. The gastrointestinal tract on the other hand is affected in the form of belly cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The respiratory tract has symptoms ranging from itchy and watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing to asthma attacks coupled with wheezing and coughing.
A severe reaction known as anaphylaxis may also occur to some patients. It causes the swelling of the mouth as well as the throat and airways that lead to the lungs leading to the inability of the patient to breathe. There is also a dangerous drop in the blood pressure which cause the dizziness and passing out and sometimes immediately lead to shock.
Milk Allergy Treatment
Once your doctor suspects that you might be having a milk allergy, you will be referred to a specialist that is equipped to better treat your allergic reactions. The allergy specialist will then ask you some questions that may cover information about how often these reactions occur and the time that it usually takes before the allergy manifests itself in your system. He or she will also ask you if there are members of your family who has the same case of allergic reactions that you have.
An allergy specialist performs a skin test on you and this test will involve a placing of liquid extracts of milk protein on the patient’s forearm or back. The skin will be pricked a bit and the allergist waits if there would appear reddish spot forms thus indicating the allergic reaction.
The most common treatment for milk allergy is avoidance.
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