Does Drinking Milk Cause Sinus Problems?

Sinus problems like congestion, runny nose and sinus headaches generally occur because the thin tissue lining the walls of your sinuses becomes inflamed. At the same time your body secretes additional mucus to get rid of substances causing the irritation. While the mucus is not the source of your stuffiness, it can make the small spaces through which air passes even smaller. Some people may experience sinus problems due to a reaction to dairy products like milk. Many children have signs of a milk allergy, but often grow out of it.

Some people experience sinus problems due to a reaction to milk. (Image: Twenty20/@feelartfeelant)

Milk Allergy

Despite the widely held belief that lactose intolerance is an allergy to milk, they are two separate medical conditions. An allergic response occurs when your body perceives something, such as milk, as a threat to your health. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology explains that children may develop hives during an allergic reaction to milk. Other symptoms of a milk allergy include problems breathing and a runny nose. These are symptoms of a true allergic response, and if breathing is impaired, is a medical emergency.

Milk and Excess Mucus Production

Milk and other dairy products are often blamed for additional production of mucus that can cause sinus problems but this may by a myth. A study published in "The American Review of Respiratory Disease" did not find an association between milk consumption and increased nasal secretions. In addition, an article published in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" explains that research examining the relationship between milk consumption and mucus production suggests that people who believe there is an association they are producing more mucus. No evidence supports an increase in mucus after drinking milk.

Treatment

If you believe you may be experiencing sinus problems caused by consumption of milk, discontinue drinking this beverage and monitor any changes. Treatment for current sinus problems include over-the-counter or prescription decongestants and antihistamines. Nasal problems accompanied by a yellow or green mucus discharge, fever or lethargy may indicate a sinus infection. Chronic sinus congestion and headaches can be caused by the development of growths inside the nasal cavities. This condition generally requires surgical intervention to remove the growths, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Considerations

Milk and products made from milk are important sources of dietary calcium, protein and vitamin D. If you are allergic to milk however, there are ways you can still get enough of these important nutrients. Supplements should be used under the supervision of your physician but foods like broccoli are rich in dietary calcium. Cereals are often fortified with both calcium and vitamin D and you can consume protein in the form of meat, fish, beans or legumes. In some cases, allergies can be treated through injections that contain minute amounts of the allergen, administered over a period of time to reduce sensitivity. See an allergist to discuss this approach to treating a milk allergy.

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