A milk allergy occurs when the immune system rejects the proteins found in animal milk. Most individuals who have a milk allergy are allergic to cow milk, which contains alpha S1-casein protein. Between two and three percent of children younger than three years old have a milk allergy and eighty percent of these children will generally outgrow the allergy by the time they become adults. Milk allergy is also often times mistakenly believed to be lactose intolerance, which is when the body is unable to digest the lactose found in dairy products. While milk allergy and lactose intolerance share many of the same symptoms, a milk allergy can be fatal. Treatment for a milk allergy typically depends on the symptoms present and their severity.
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Appearance Of Hives
The appearance of hives can be one of the first symptoms experienced during an allergic reaction to milk. Hives are small, round welts that can appear on the skin and inside of the mouth. This type of rash typically itches and can be quite uncomfortable. When an individual with a milky allergy drinks milk, their immune system is triggered to release histamine. This histamine release results in blood plasma engorging the skin small blood cells, causing the hives. Hives on their own are typically not life-threatening, though they can be quite uncomfortable, due to their itchy and stinging nature. Hives can often be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines.
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Individuals with a severe milk allergy may experience anaphylaxis when they consume products containing milk. This severe allergic reaction can occur almost immediately upon ingesting milk products. It causes the airway to swell and become constricted, making it very difficult or even impossible to breathe. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, a weak and rapid heartbeat, as well as nausea and vomiting. This condition can be fatal and requires immediate medical attention should it occur. Individuals with a severe milk allergy may carry prescribed medication that will give them a shot of adrenaline to reduce airway constriction and combat the allergy. Often, however, the effects of these medications are temporary and individuals must still seek medical attention.
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Runny Nose And Watery Eyes
Runny nose and watery eyes are a pair of common milk allergy symptoms. This reaction is due to the immune response of releasing histamine into the body to combat the allergen. Histamine can cause a chemical reaction in the sinuses and eyes, causing a runny nose and watery eyes, neither of which are fatal on their own. The best way to avoid these symptoms is, of course, to stay away from milk products. However, if milk products are ingested and these symptoms occur, they can be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines, which block the release of and reaction to histamine.
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Swelling In And Around The Mouth
Swelling in and around the mouth is yet another a symptom of milk allergy. This reaction is due to the release of histamine. As the immune system releases histamine into the body to combat the allergen, various chemical reactions within the body, including inflammation and swelling. This swelling may be limited to the area around the mouth, including the lips, but it also may occur inside the mouth. If the tongue and throat swell, it can restrict the airway, causing difficulty breathing. Swelling in and around the mouth can be fatal and it is important for anyone experiencing this type of allergic reaction to seek medical assistance immediately.
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Wheezing And Coughing
Wheezing and coughing is another symptom of a milk allergy. This reaction is also caused by the release of histamine and the resulting inflammation. As the histamine travels through the body it causes inflammation of the tissues and cells. This is also true for the lungs. As the lungs become inflamed, it becomes difficult for breath to travel through the airways, which causes the whistling sound associated with wheezing. While wheezing and coughing on their own may not be life-threatening, they are a sign air is not traveling properly through the airways. This symptom should be monitored, especially when accompanied by breathing difficulties.