Milk allergy reactions may cause immediate or delayed symptoms. Learn to spot the signs and what foods to avoid if you have a dairy allergy
Milk allergy reactions may cause immediate symptoms within minutes or delayed symptoms up to 2-3 hours after consuming milk products. Severity of symptoms can vary, from mild to life-threatening. Common symptoms of milk allergy include:
What is a milk allergy?
Milk allergy, or dairy allergy, is one the most common food allergies that affect both children and adults. While more commonly seen within the first year of a baby’s life, milk allergy can occur at any age. Adults can develop an allergy to dairy products even if they used to be able to consume milk in the past without any issues.
Although milk allergy is often confused with lactose intolerance, they are not the same. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in many dairy products. Milk allergy is an immune response to proteins in milk, casein and whey.
Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome Symptoms & Signs
Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES) is a condition in children that can be considered to be a delayed form of food allergy. Unlike typical food allergies, symptoms of FPIES come on hours after a food is consumed. The condition often occurs in infants who are beginning to eat solid foods. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, dehydration and shock can occur due to fluid loss.
What ingredients can cause milk allergy symptoms?
People with milk allergies should avoid the following ingredients or foods:
- Milk (all forms, including condensed, dry, evaporated and powdered milk)
- Butter (including butterfat, butter oil, clarified butter, and artificial butter flavor)
- Cheese and cream cheese
- Cottage cheese and curds
- Cream, half and half, and ice cream
- Sour cream, sour milk
- Cottage cheese and curds
- Custard, pudding, and yogurt
- Casein and casein hydrolysates
- Caseinates (such as sodium caseinate)
- Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactoglobulin, lactoferrin, and lactulose
How is milk allergy diagnosed?
A diagnosis of milk allergy is made by reviewing symptoms and going through a process of elimination to rule out other medical conditions. Tests may include:
- Stool test
- Blood tests
- Allergy tests, including skin prick or patch tests
- Food challenge test
How is milk allergy treated?
The best way to manage all types of milk allergies and milk sensitivities is to avoid consuming dairy products. While there is no definitive treatment for milk allergy, some of the following measures may be taken to limit reactions:
- Infants who develop milk allergies way before starting on solid foods may be prescribed hypoallergenic infant formula.
- For a life-threatening allergic reaction, treatment includes administering injectable epinephrine, oral or injectable antihistamines, or oral or injectable corticosteroids.
- Treatment of food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES) includes administering intravenous hydration and intravenous corticosteroids.
Allergies can best be described as:
Medically Reviewed on 8/23/2021
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Milk & Dairy Allergy. https://acaai.org/allergies/types-allergies/food-allergy/types-food-allergy/milk-dairy-allergy
Sicherer SH. Food Allergies. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/135959-overview