Dairy products provide your metabolism with necessary calcium and vitamin D, helping your bones and teeth to stay strong. The disadvantages of dairy appear for those who suffer from allergies or lactose intolerance. When the immune system responds abnormally to dairy products, allergic reactions occur. Of all the food allergies in children, milk allergies are the most prevalent. Dairy allergies cause respiratory distress, digestive problems and skin disorders. Lactose intolerance is another adverse condition related to eating dairy and causes digestion problems.
Respiratory distress associated with dairy allergies includes wheezing, swelling of the airway, coughing, sneezing, asthma attacks and runny nose. With severe dairy allergies, anaphylaxis causes loss of consciousness and respiratory failure. People with severe allergies should always have an epinephrine pen available for immediate treatment.
Digestive problems are common with dairy allergies. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, gas, bloating, flatulence and nausea. The symptoms appear from a few minutes to two hours after eating dairy products. Severity of the symptoms depends upon the amount of dairy eaten and how much dairy you can tolerate.
Dairy allergies often appear as hives, rashes, eczema and itchiness around the mouth. Hives are red, swollen bumps that itch or burn, usually on the chest. Eczema causes inflammation of the skin that itches and burns, especially on the face, arms, legs and scalp. Severe eczema results in skin blisters and oozing sores.
When your body does not produce enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, it results in lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. When the body cannot digest lactose, distressing symptoms occur, including gas, bloating, loose stools, abdominal cramps and nausea.
Allergies to dairy are incurable, so alternative sources of calcium and vitamin D are necessary for overall health. One alternative for cow's milk is soy-based milk. Spinach, broccoli and bread also provide calcium for those allergic to dairy. Vegan products do not contain any animal by-products, so they are a source of dairy-free foods. Replace ice cream with sorbet, freeze pops or rice-based desserts. Read all food labels carefully, because many foods contain milk by-products that could trigger an allergic reaction.
- Mayo Clinic; Milk Allergy; August 2011
- Cleveland Clinic; Diseases and Conditions; Lactose Intolerance
- KidsHealth.org; Milk Allergy; D. Pauline Williams, MPA, RD, CD; November 2009
- Mayo Clinic; Milk Allergy; Symptoms
- The Dairy Council: Dairy and Food Allergy
- New York University; Langone Medical Center; Eczema; Jennifer Hellwig