Identifying a Milk Allergy: Rash, Nausea, and Other Common Symptoms

Many people experience common signs of an allergy, such as a milk allergy rash, without ever realizing that they are actually allergic to dairy products. While some people may experience a very severe reaction to milk products, which leads to an obvious diagnosis of a milk allergy, others may only deal with mild symptoms that they don't feel are severe enough to have checked out by a doctor.

Even though milk is the first food we ever eat as babies, it is still possible to be allergic to milk from birth. Why is this? The substances in milk that one can become allergic to are called "lactose", which is a form of sugar, "whey" or "casein" proteins, all of which are found in cow's milk. These things are not a natural component of the milk produced by humans. Many parents notice a milk allergy in their child from a very young age--even from birth. Even breastfeeding moms can become suspicious when their child begins to show symptoms such as milk allergy rash, diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting. If mom's milk doesn't contain lactose, casein, or whey, how can the baby show these signs? Well, it is very important for breastfeeding moms to eat and drink plenty of dairy products to keep up their health while they are producing milk. The things a mother eats, however, will show up in the milk she produces, which means a mom who drinks a lot of cow's milk could end up passing the milk sugar or proteins through her milk to her baby. This, in turn, causes an allergic or lactose intolerant baby to produce symptoms.

You may have heard that there is a pretty wide-scale list of symptoms that one can produce as a result of a milk allergy, and you would be correct. Everyone is different, and the way each person's body responds to an allergy can differ.  The most commonly seen symptoms are a milk allergy rash, which can appear in the form of eczema or hives. Eczema is a skin condition in which itchiness, dryness, and redness occurs. Eczema usually does not affect the entire body, but rather it crops up in patches, usually on the face, crease of the neck, arms and elbow creases, as well as the legs and behind the knee. A hives outbreak can occur all over the body or in patches, and appears as red, swollen bumps all over the skin.

Other common symptoms of a milk allergy or lactose intolerance includes vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and gassiness that occurs after consuming milk products. These symptoms can vary in severity and may show up right away or up to 48 hours after eating or drinking milk products. In the case of infants, it is common for an undetected milk allergy to provoke a very lethargic attitude. The infant may fail to "thrive" both in physical growth as well as his overall actions. Fussiness, a lack of appetite, and even dehydration are signs to look out for as a parent.

Milk allergies are most common among children, but most seem to virtually disappear as a child grows older. In fact, nearly 80% of the children who have a milk allergy as an infant will outgrow the allergy by the age of six. For some, it is a lifelong allergy or intolerance that must be managed on a daily basis. The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid all products that contain cow's milk. One should be aware that children who have a milk allergy are more prone to developing allergies towards other foods such as nuts, eggs, and wheat.

If you suspect that your child or that you yourself have a milk allergy, you can have your suspicions confirmed or denied by speaking to your doctor or to an allergist. Your doctor will ask you questions such as what your symptoms are like, how often they occur, and the usual amount of time that passes between consuming milk and the onset of symptoms. Your doctor may choose to perform a skin test, which is a controlled situation in which you are exposed to the suspected allergen (milk protein). The doctor will gage your reaction to determine whether you do indeed have an allergy to milk. Alternatively, your doctor may choose to take a blood sample where your blood can be sent to a laboratory and mixed with the milk protein or lactose. If your blood shows an increase in antibodies, it is pretty safe to say that you do indeed have an allergy to milk.

Upon confirmation, ask your doctor of ways that you may be able to manage future reactions in the event that you accidently consume something that contains milk.




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