Food-based allergy is one of the most common types of allergic reactions in the United States. Making the matter more difficult is the fact that there are several different types of foods that may cause the individual to exhibit symptoms of an allergic reaction. The United States Nation Institute of Health has been able to estimate that on average 70% of food-based allergies are caused by one of eight different food products, which do not necessarily share a food group, and some are animal-based while others are not. While allergies to peanuts, shellfish, and eggs are common and responsible for a significant number of allergic reactions, many allergies appear to be caused by dairy products.
Dairy allergies appear to be most common among children, with approximately 1 in every 40 children in the United States exhibiting an allergic reaction to the specific proteins found in products containing milk. However, many children do grow out of their sensitivity to dairy, and consequently this allergy is rather rare among the adult population. In spite of that, it is very important to adjust the child’s diet when such sensitivity is still presenting itself. The most common dairy allergen is milk, and it appears to not be relevant whether it comes from cows, goats or sheep. Furthermore, one has to remember to pay attention to certain products that may contain milk, such as cheese, yogurts and chocolate. In order to prevent the occurrence of an allergic reaction, these products should be substituted with their non-allergenic counterparts that may use soy, or rice milk, or a non-dairy cheese.
The symptoms of dairy allergies are very similar to those of other allergies. The affected individual may present skin rashes, itching and swelling. In addition, there may be gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomachache, nausea and diarrhea. In the individuals exhibiting a more severe sensitivity to dairy products, full anaphylactic shock may also occur, sometimes necessitating an injection of epinephrine to reduce the severity of the allergic reaction. In the case of less serious symptoms, certain over-the-counter anti-allergic meds may be used to reduce the symptoms. Furthermore, it is important to remember that being allergic to dairy is significantly different than being lactose intolerant. While the first is caused by the affected individual’s immune system attacking a safe substance, the latter results from inability to properly digest lactose due to a lack of the necessary enzyme lactase, normally found in the small intestine.