A milk allergy is one of the most common food allergies in little ones. It affects about 2-3% of children under the age of 3. Some tend to outgrow it while others may have it for life.
Symptoms of a milk allergy can range from mild to severe. It is important to recognize a milk allergy is different from lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance can be uncomfortable, but it is not life-threatening.
A milk allergy can make a person extremely unwell. If you are unsure if your little one has a milk allergy, your first trip should be to your GP.
What exactly is a milk allergy?
If you are allergic to milk, your body’s immune system will react to the proteins in the milk. The body will mistake these proteins for harmful invaders and release a chemical like histamine to fight them.
When your body does this it can cause symptoms such as:
- Throat tightness
- Tummy pain
- Swollen eyes
Allergic reactions can differ from person to person, but they can also differ within the one person too. Sometimes they can have a milder reaction or a more severe reaction.
A milk allergy can cause anaphylaxis even if all other reactions so far have been mild. This is important to be aware of as anaphylaxis can progress quite quickly.
If left untreated, it can be life-threatening.
How do I treat a milk allergy?
If your little one has been diagnosed with any allergy it is important to keep two epi-pens in case of an emergency. An epi-pen is easy to use and comes in a small, easy to carry container.
Your GP can show you how to administer it and if your child is old enough, they can also be shown how to self-administer, just in case.
What to do with an allergic reaction?
Firstly, remember that every second matters when it comes to an allergic reaction. If your child begins to have a serious reaction, administer the epi-pen immediately. Call an ambulance and try as best you can to keep calm.
It is also a good idea to have a mild antihistamine with you at all times for milk reactions. It is incredibly important to remember this is not a replacement for an epi-pen, which is to be used in life-threatening situations.
Things to remember
The best way to prevent a reaction is to avoid all foods that contain milk, milk products and milk powder. Always read the labels as milk may be used in things you wouldn’t even think of, like processed meats, tuna and especially baked goods.
It is important to also remember food manufacturers sometimes change ingredients, so it is important to always check the labels.