Is Lactaid OK If Avoiding Milk Protein?

Lactaid is a brand of lactose-free dairy products. Lactose, also known as milk sugar, causes digestive discomfort and complications if you suffer from lactose intolerance. If you are trying to avoid milk protein, however, you may suffer from a condition called milk allergy. Managing milk allergy involves avoiding all dairy, including Lactaid products.

A father is pouring milk into his son's bowl. (Image: Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Lactose Intolerance vs. Milk Allergy

MayoClinic.com reports that people often confuse milk allergy for lactose intolerance. With lactose intolerance, your body does not produce enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, a disaccharide, into its component sugars. Your body cannot digest disaccharides, and the absence of lactase forces it to ferment lactose instead, leading to gas, pain, bloating, nausea and diarrhea. Milk allergy is an immunological response to the milk proteins casein and whey, which are present in all dairy products. Since all Lactaid products contain milk protein, they are not a suitable alternative to regular dairy products if trying to avoid milk protein. Milk allergy can affect people of all ages, but it most commonly occurs in children.

Milk Allergy Symptoms

Common symptoms that occur immediately after consuming milk products include wheezing, hives and vomiting. Over time, you may develop loose, bloody stools, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and skin rashes. Although rare, you may also develop anaphylaxis, a serious condition that constricts the airways, makes breathing difficult and causes a severe drop in blood pressure. Anaphylaxis requires emergency medical treatment with administration of an epinephrine injection.

Avoiding Milk Products

The only effective treatment and preventative measure for milk allergy is avoiding milk products altogether, according to MayoClinic.com. Milk and milk proteins, however, are common ingredients in thousands of foods, making it difficult to completely eliminate them from your diet. Hidden sources of milk proteins that you should avoid include chocolate, nougat and caramel candies, fat replacement products, protein supplement powders, hydrosolate and artificial cheese and butter flavor additives.

Milk Alternatives

MayoClinic.com warns that milk from other animals, such as goats or sheep, may also cause allergic reactions since their milk proteins are structurally similar to the proteins in cow’s milk. Therefore, the best alternatives are plant-based milks, such as almond, coconut, rice and hemp milks. Soy milk is another suitable alternative, but soy allergy is common among children with milk allergy.

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