The Causes & Symptoms defined

Compare the symptoms of milk allergy vs lactose intoleance.

Finding out if your food reaction was due to an allergy or food intolerance is not difficult.

Milk allergy is caused when a milk proteins wrongly alert our immune system thinking it is a harmful body (e.g. bacteria). The immune system is hence triggered and goes on the attack resulting in allergy symptoms as in the table below.

Food intolerance is caused when our digestive system does not produce sufficient enzymes (proteins) to help break down milk sugar (lactose) into smaller bits. Lactose remains undigested and unabsorbed by the intestines. As this travels deeper in the digestive tract, bacteria that live in us digest it themselves resulting in theproduction of gases (wind) and leading to the symptoms explained below.

Milk Allergy Lactose Intolerance

Cause

hypersensitive immune reaction to milk proteins; i.e. the immune system suspects that one (or more) of the milk proteins are a harmful body

Age

  • starts usually from early infancy and more common in children who overgrow it, triggered in later adult life in some who never had it in childhood.

Symptoms

usually immediate and affecting more that one part of the body-
digestion: nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea
skin: swelling eczema, hives
airways: wheezing, coughing, congestion and a runny nose
anaphylaxis: most known to happen in peanuts allergy but can be triggered by all sorts of food ingestion. Extremely rare in milk allergy but it EXISTS! Individuals may experience life threatening anaphylactic attacks. Strict avoidance of all traces of the offending food and all its derivatives is the only way to deal with this type of allergy. Emergency adrenaline (epinephrine) should be prescribed and kept within close proximity at all times.

Cause

insufficient enzymes being produced to break carbohydrates; hence certain food remains in large parts unable to be absorbed by the digestive system

Age

starts later in childhood but most common in adults, may be temporarily present in the form of colic in babies

Symptoms

symptoms with food intolerance affect the digestive system only: diarrhoea, abdominal bloating, gas, wind, stomach cramps. Some may experience vomiting. The magnitude of the above symptoms are inversely related to the amount of enzyme produced. Some people can produce less than others.