Whey protein is a general term that describes certain proteins found in milk and milk products. People who are allergic to these proteins or to other substances in milk may develop a variety of immune system reactions if they consume them. Increased mucus production is a potential symptom of an allergic reaction to whey protein.
Whey Protein Background
Milk contains a number of proteins, including substances called beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin and a group of proteins called caseins. During the creation of cheese and other nonfluid milk products, casein proteins are separated out of milk and form a solid mass called curd. The liquid portion of milk left behind is called whey. Any protein contained in whey is considered a whey protein, including alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, immunoglobulins and serum albumin. Additional components in whey include hormones, enzymes and substances called growth factors.
Varied Allergy Symptoms
In people who have milk allergies, consumption of milk triggers an immune system response that can develop in anywhere from minutes to several hours. Allergies of this type most commonly appear in infants or young children, but can also appear at any stage of life. Not all people with a milk allergy develop the same symptoms or the same degree of symptom seriousness. People with mild allergies may experience nothing more than relatively minor skin itching, while people with severe allergies can develop a potentially fatal form of shock called anaphylaxis.
Mucus is a thick fluid produced by tissue linings called mucous membranes, which appear in all your cavities and body passages. These membranes secrete mucus through specialized openings called glands. In people with whey allergies or other milk allergies, increased mucus production typically takes the form of a runny nose, according to MayoClinic.com. When you develop a runny nose, both your blood vessels and the mucous membranes in your nasal tissue secrete excessive amounts of mucus that flow from your nose and trickle down the rear wall of your throat.
If you don't have a milk allergy, you may not experience increased mucus production when you consume whey proteins. Even if you have a milk allergy, whey protein consumption will not necessarily trigger mucus production. In addition to whey proteins, the Cleveland Clinic lists several other milk components that can trigger increased mucus production or other allergic responses. They include casein proteins, casein enzymes and substances called caseinates. If you have a milk allergy, forms of milk or milk products that can trigger an allergic response include cheese, sour cream, ice cream, cottage cheese, butter, ghee, cream cheese, buttermilk, milk from animals other than cows and powdered, evaporated, dry or condensed milk. Consult your doctor for more information on whey protein, mucus production and other symptoms of milk allergies.