Milk Allergies

Have you ever felt ill after drinking milk and wondered whether it’s a case of lactose intolerance or a milk allergy? ER physician Dr. Travis Stork and pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears explain the differences between the two.

A person who is lactose intolerant does not digest milk sugar, also known as lactose. Lactose intolerance affects 30 million Americans, often after the age of 5, and can cause diarrhea, gas and bloating.

A person with a milk allergy can digest the lactose, but they have an allergic reaction, such as hives or even difficulty breathing, soon after consumption.

Common symptoms:
• Hives
• Difficulty breathing

Treatment options
Milk allergies affect about 4 percent of adults, and if a child is allergic to milk, he or she often will outgrow the allergy by age 3. 
“If you have a milk allergy – just like if you have a nut allergy or other severe food allergies – carry an Epi-Pen with you,” Dr. Travis says. “I’ve seen Epi-Pens save lives, [and] milk can be in products you don’t expect.”


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