Milk Allergy

What is a Milk Allergy?

Individuals who have a milk allergy will have an allergic reaction whenever they eat or drink anything that contains cow’s milk. A reaction occurs when a person’s immune system does not work normally and it determines that certain proteins that are present in cow’s milk are harmful to the body.

These proteins are the casein, which is in the curds of milk, and whey, which exists in the liquefied portion of milk after curdling. Most milk reactions are not severe and individuals can keep them under control by being conscientious of what they eat and drink.

What are the Symptoms of Milk Allergy?

Some of the symptoms that result from a milk allergy, such as vomiting, wheezing and hives, can occur immediately or within a few hours of consuming a milk product. Other symptoms may not appear until a number of hours or a few days later.

These include diarrhea, loose bowel movements that are often bloody, stomach cramping, rashes on the skin, sporadic coughing and an infection of the sinuses. A rare but dangerous symptom, called anaphylactic shock, can cause the mouth and throat to swell, and eventually bring on cardiac arrest. If this occurs, it is essential to get medical help as quickly as possible.

How is Milk Allergy Treated?

After a milk allergy diagnosis, the best treatment is to avoid consuming any foods or liquids that contain milk.

When treating some milk allergy symptoms, such as rashes and itching, a physician may prescribe a topical steroid cream or an antihistamine. In the event of a serious reaction that causes anaphylactic shock, a medical professional will administer an epinephrine injection to counteract the allergic reaction. Additional medications, after the initial epinephrine, may include cortisone and asthma drugs to help breathing issues. Many individuals who are allergic to milk carry an epinephrine auto-injector with them at all times. If an allergic reaction occurs, the individual can administer the medication themselves.

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Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017