5 Common Signs of a Dairy Allergy

5 Common Signs of a Dairy Allergy

Dairy allergy is one of the most common food allergies worldwide. About 6.1 million people have convincing symptoms of this allergy.  

Living with allergies can be challenging, especially when it’s something as common as dairy. Dairy is present in milk, cheese, and yogurt. It’s also a common ingredient in many prepared foods, making it difficult to avoid. 

If you suspect you have an allergy to dairy, it’s important to get evaluated at Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center. We can help you learn to manage the allergy and live a satisfying life without dairy products. 

Here are five common signs that could indicate that you — or a loved one — is allergic to dairy. 

1. Gastrointestinal distress

One of the most frequent indicators of a dairy allergy is gastrointestinal distress. If you find yourself experiencing bloating, gas, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps shortly after consuming dairy products, your body may be reacting to the proteins found in milk. 

Having these symptoms following ingestion of dairy isn’t always a sign of a true allergy, though. Lactose intolerance, a condition where the body lacks the enzyme needed to digest lactose (the sugar in milk), is often confused with a dairy allergy. 

An allergy is diagnosed when your immune system overreacts to the proteins in dairy. Lactose intolerance is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but an allergy can lead to severe reactions. 

2. Skin reactions

If you notice redness, hives, eczema, or itching after consuming dairy, it could be a sign that your immune system is recognizing milk proteins as foreign invaders and responding with an allergic reaction. 

Skin reactions may take some time to appear, making it challenging to connect them directly to dairy consumption. Keeping a food diary can help you identify patterns and determine if dairy is the cause. We can also perform skin testing or blood tests to diagnose an allergy.

3. Respiratory symptoms

Less commonly, a dairy allergy affects the respiratory system, leading to symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, or even shortness of breath. 

When a dairy allergy causes these symptoms in infants, it’s a good indication that the allergy will persist later into childhood, according to research. Most infants outgrow their dairy allergies within a few years.

4. Gastrointestinal blood loss

While less common, severe cases of dairy allergies can lead to gastrointestinal blood loss. This may result in dark, tarry stools or visible blood in the stool. This indicates a serious reaction that requires immediate medical attention. 

We can evaluate the symptoms and help you determine if you’re experiencing a dairy allergy or if you have another condition, like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

5. Anaphylaxis

In rare cases, a dairy allergy can trigger a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and throat, a rapid or weak pulse, and a drop in blood pressure. 

Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention, and if you have a known, severe dairy allergy, you should carry an epinephrine auto-injector for emergency use.

A dairy allergy can be hard to identify, because the product is present in many foods, and symptoms can show up hours or days after you consume it. 

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have a dairy allergy, call your nearest office or send us a message here on our website to book your visit. We have offices in Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee, and Abingdon, Virginia. 

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