About Allergies to Dairy Products
According to the Center for Food Allergies, over 50 million people in the United States are allergic to dairy products. Lactose intolerance is more common than most people realize. Statistics show that two-thirds of adults around the world experience some level of intolerance to foods that include lactose, a disaccharide sugar that is found in milk and other dairy products.
The signs of dairy allergies include hives, vomiting and difficulty breathing. Symptoms that may develop due to an intolerance to dairy include digestive problems, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, congestion, skin rash, watery eyes, coughing, colic (in infants), and wheezing.
It is important to keep in mind that there is a big difference between people who have an intolerance to dairy and those who experience an allergic reaction to dairy.
Dairy allergies involve an immune response that can be life threatening. Whether you are allergic or have some level of intolerance to dairy consumption, the following tips will help you to live in greater comfort, to avoid health problems, and to improve your overall health.
Tips for living with allergies to dairy products include:
- Avoid dairy products including milk, cheese, half and half, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and other products that contain dairy.
- When eating out, be sure to ask your waiter if the menu item that you are interested in has any dairy in it. Even if dairy is not listed as one of the ingredients, many restaurant items are cooked using butter or with other dairy products.
- Explore alternative dairy options such as milk, ice cream or yogurt made from almond, rice, soy, coconut or oat sources.
- Become informed about what ingredients are derived from dairy sources. For example, casein and whey are both dairy products that should be avoided.
- Know that you can easily get enough calcium without consuming dairy products. Many dark green, leafy vegetables, such as kale, broccoli and collards, contain plenty of calcium. Almonds and sardines are also excellent sources of calcium.
If you have questions about living with allergies to dairy products, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a dietitian and nutritionist.