A milk allergy is basically a problem with a person's immune system. It occurs when a person's immune system sees milk and milk-containing products as foreign and dangerous substances. When a person with this type of allergy consumes milk or a milk-based product, his body attempts to combat the suspicious substance. An allergic reaction ensues, which may have unpleasant symptoms.
When someone develops a milk allergy, she may experience symptoms right after eating or several days after drinking or eating milk products. A person with a milk allergy may experience nausea and diarrhea, which may be bloody. In some cases, vomiting may occur as well. Other symptoms of a milk allergy can include gagging, skin rashes, irritability, wheezing, itchy eyes, and swelling. A baby or young child may also refuse to eat in response to allergy symptoms. Though it is rare, a person with a milk allergy may experience life-threatening anaphylaxis, which can cause her to have trouble breathing.
Though milk allergies can be present at any age, they are far more common in infants and young children. In fact, it is very common for the first symptoms of this allergy to show up when a person is less than six months old. When a person is allergic to milk, he may be allergic to either one type of milk protein or both types--casein and whey. If a person is sensitive to these proteins, he should pay careful attention to what he eats, as they are found in a variety of processed foods. Some contain only casein, others include whey and some contain both.
There's really no good treatment for a milk allergy. The best way to treat it is actually prevention, which means avoiding milk and the proteins found within it. Since this may be hard to do, especially if you don't know the exact ingredients in everything you eat, antihistamines may come to the rescue to relieve symptoms after an accidental exposure. If you develop anaphylaxis, an emergency shot of adrenaline and emergency care from a physician will likely be necessary.
It may not be possible to prevent all cases of milk allergies, but there are some things that may help to head off some cases in infants and young children. First, it is best to avoid giving cow's milk and other edibles that contain milk to children who are under the age of one. Some researchers believe this may help to prevent the development of allergies. Additionally, breastfeeding may help to reduce the chance that an infant will develop an allergy to cow's milk. It may also be helpful to avoid consuming milk products while breastfeeding a baby.