Cow’s milk has been the leading cause of allergy among young children all over the world. Even though many children have outgrown this type of allergy once they reach 2 or 3 years old, it has been a serious issue for parents. In case you suspect that your child has a dairy allergy, it is vital to fully understand the causes as well as the symptoms to watch out for.
Causes of dairy allergies among children
Food allergies typically occur among children who have an impaired immune system. The proteins present in dairy products are considered as a threat, thus the immune system releases antibodies to fight them off. Once the child is exposed to these dairy proteins, the immune system releases histamines that are responsible for the allergic reaction. Take note that dairy products in the market typically contain two types of protein – casein and whey. Casein is present in solid parts of milk while whey is the liquid remnants of milk after it coagulates. In most cases, children can become allergic to one type of dairy protein or even both.
Symptoms of a dairy allergy
The allergic reaction to dairy products tends to vary from one child to another and can be mild or severe in nature. In most cases, these symptoms manifest a few hours after a dairy product is eaten. The following symptoms can develop:
- Abdominal cramps
- Rashes on the skin
- Runny nose
When anaphylaxis develops
The moment anaphylaxis develops, it is a severe reaction that is rare but can occur in some individuals. This is considered as a life-threatening condition since the airways are constricted, thus the child could not breath properly.
Anaphylaxis is characterized by a rapid pulse, dizziness and an abrupt drop in the blood pressure. In case the condition of the child progresses to anaphylactic shock, it is important to take him/her to the nearest emergency room. The child will be given emergency care with an injection of epinephrine.
Difference between dairy allergy and food intolerance
Dairy allergy and food intolerance have different symptoms that set them apart. Children who are intolerant to dairy products will suffer from stomach problems such as diarrhea and bloating. Always remember that if a child is intolerant to dairy products, the immune system is not compromised. With a skin or blood testing, it will help determine if the child is allergic to dairy products.
Preventing an allergic reaction
One way to prevent an allergic reaction from developing is to make sure that your child will not eat dairy products. Infants who have dairy allergy must be breast-fed or given soy-based or hypoallergenic formulas. For children who are eating solid foods, you have to check the labels of food products carefully since most of the packaged foods in the market can contain casein or whey.
Majority of children could not also tolerate goat’s or sheep’s milk if they are allergic to cow’s milk since the proteins are strikingly similar. If your child has a severe allergic reaction to dairy products, you have to provide a medical bracelet. An EpiPen can be prescribed by your doctor if he/she is at risk for developing anaphylactic shock.