Differences between lactose intolerance and cow’s milk protein allergy

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Dairy products have numerous benefits, but cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) and lactose intolerance make it difficult for some people to enjoy them. These two conditions are the most common ones related to dairy consumption. Although they are different, most people confuse the two. Besides having the same cause (milk), these digestive issues have similar symptoms.

So, the confusion is understandable. However, not knowing if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk can lead to unnecessary dietary restrictions. You could be short-changing your nutrition because you don’t fully grasp what’s wrong with your body. In this article, find out how the two dairy-related health conditions differ.

What is Cow Milk Protein Allergy?

A cow’s milk protein allergy is among the most prevalent food allergies, especially in children. It occurs when the body’s immune systems react to one of the various proteins in cow’s milk. The alpha S1-casein protein usually causes the reaction. When you drink milk or consume dairy products, your body identifies the mentioned protein as a dangerous compound and triggers an immune response to fight it. Subsequent contact between the body and the milk protein leads to the release of immune mediators, causing milk allergy symptoms to manifest. Apart from casein, the body can react to whey, another main protein in animal milk.

CMPA mostly appears in children and typically develops in the first year. Most children outgrow the allergy by age 6. However, it’s not uncommon for cow’s milk allergy to develop later in life. Reactions to milk proteins can appear within minutes of consumption or take several hours.

Lactose intolerance causes

Symptoms of Cow's Milk Allergy

Several CMPA symptoms are the same as for lactose intolerance. These are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and nausea. Here are other symptoms of cow milk protein allergy in infants.

  • Runny nose.
  • Coughing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Itchy rash.
  • Hives.

In extreme cases, CMPA can lead to anaphylactic shock.

Can You Eat Dairy with a Milk Allergy or Lactose Intolerance?

Cow milk protein allergy in infants, young children or adults makes it difficult to have dairy products. Even small amounts can lead to bad allergic reactions. For this reason, you should be careful about the foods you or your child eat. You have to avoid dairy completely, which means reading labels to avoid accidental consumption.

If the issue is lactose intolerance, then you might be able to handle a bit of dairy. It’s another key difference between the two digestive conditions. Yoghurt and its variants and hard cheeses are some dairy options for a lactose-intolerant person. The absence of milk in your diet can cause a calcium deficiency. Hence, ensure you make up for it with other calcium-rich foods, such as green vegetables, spinach and almonds.

Differences between lactose intolerance and milk protein allergy

Is lactose good for your body?

The biggest difference between lactose intolerance and CMPA is that the latter involves the immune system and is more severe. An allergy to cow’s milk can cause serious issues, including anaphylaxis. Lactose intolerance can allow you to enjoy limited dairy consumption. Both health conditions require serious attention. So, ensure you learn everything from diagnostic tests to the correct dietary habits. If you suspect lactose intolerance or a cow’s milk protein allergy and do you want to get your Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon, consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

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