Milk Allergy or Lactose Intolerance?

Diary allergy, cows milk, health coach atlanta, gluten free, food allergy, kids with allergies
Diary allergy, cows milk, health coach atlanta, gluten free, food allergy, kids with allergies
photo cred: petakids.com

Let’s talk about a very important topic: recognizing food allergies, specifically a dairy allergy.

Over the past few weeks, milk & dairy allergies has been at the forefront of many conversations with clients to colleagues to a guy at the car dealership. (I know, crazy, isn’t it!?)

One thing was clear from all these conversations. Distinguishing an allergy from lactose intolerance is not as easy or as talked-about as it should be.

Let’s consider this very common scenario: After explaining your or your child’s allergy to milk and dairy, the friend/hostess/colleague replies with an understanding nod and “oh, you’re (your child is) lactose intolerant?”

Until recently, the only physical response to milk that made the news was indeed lactose intolerance, so we can’t blame the friend/hostess/colleague for assuming she was understanding and empathizing properly. She really doesn’t know the difference between an allergy to dairy and an intolerance to lactose, and it’s important we understand the basic science, symptoms and solutions of each as they become more prevalent.

Here’s the skinny on how to recognize an allergy vs. intolerance.

Lactose Intolerance
Symptoms: gassy, digestive tract discomfort, diarrhea, abdominal pain within a short time of consuming the food ( 30 minutes – a few hours)

Potential Solutions: Lactaid, Lactose-free milk, Lactase supplement, dairy-free diet, milk alternatives

Lactaid products, lactose intolerance, health coach, gluten free, food allergy, kid with milk allergy, milk allergy, health coach atlanta
A Variety of Lactose-Free options

The Story: As we age, our natural production of lactase, the digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk so that it may be digested, declines.

If we can’t produce the lactase to break down the lactose, then the lactose stays in the digestive tract, acts as a laxative, and results in gas and loose stools within a few hours of intaking dairy. This is why Lactaid or lactose-free products are more easily digested by those who are lactose intolerance; a lactase insufficiency can be eased by lactase-enriched products, like Lactaid.

Milk Allergy, on the other hand, is a bit different.

Milk Allergy
Symptoms: Rashes, congestion/runny nose, itchy mouth/throat, hives, abdominal pain or any other combination of an immunological response

Solutions: Steer Clear of Dairy! And don’t fret, there are a variety of milk alternatives that will allow you or your munchkin to still enjoy cereal, ice cream and mac n’ cheese!Dairy free, allergy to dairy, milk allergy, gluten free, health coach atlanta, kids with food allergy, kid with milk allergy

The Story: Food allergies involve the body’s immune system, which is the body’s way of fighting infection and invaders. However, if you or your child is allergic to a particular food, the immune system sees that food as a danger to the body. The immune system then overreacts to proteins in that food, causing an allergic reaction and a release of histamine. Tingling in the mouth, swelling lips, hives and itchy ears are often symptoms that indicate an allergic reaction.

This type of reaction, in contrast to the digestive reaction to a lactose intolerance, can happen within moments with potentially far worse consequences. Any time you, your child or your guest starts “feeling funny” after consuming any foods, particularly the Big Allergens like gluten, dairy, nuts, shellfish, eggs, etc., get medical attention immediately.

As with any food allergy, it’s always best to steer clear of the food/drink and see your doctor.

For more information on dairy allergies and lactose intolerance, visit the NIH website for lactose intolerance or Kids Health’s article on milk allergies.

As always, we love to hear your questions and comments, so leave us a note below!

Backsliding to Benadryl: Coping with a Surprise Reaction

Benadryl, anaphylactic, allergies, food allergies, kids with food allergies

Just when you think you have it all under control, life throws you a curve ball.

My recent zinger really threw me for a loop. On a recent trip to Connecticut, I was just delighted to belatedly celebrate  my birthday with a soul sister at an exquisite local farm-to-table restaurant; however, my enthusiasm overshadowed my good judgment when I either A) disregarded my instinct to have the crushed pumpkin seeds left off of the mouth-watering sea trout dish I could hardly wait to try, or B) took a bite of chocolate garnishing the chocolate peanut butter gelato. Ugh, just when I thought I was done having reactions, this mysterious menace left my face a hot, inflamed tomato. Why this oh-so-delightful new face pigment couldn’t have found a home in only my legs, so that I could have easily concealed it with pants or a cute maxi is beyond me!

allergic reaction, nuts, sensitivities, food allergy, kids with food allergies, what it feels like to have an allergic reaction
Did these seemingly innocent, yet suspicious seeds leave me looking like an open pomegranate?

 

chocolate peanut butter, Community Table, farm to table, connecticut, south kent, gluten free on the go, nut allergy
…Or was this decadence to blame?

Sigh.

After all these years of learning the in’s and outs, of formally studying coping and avoidance techniques in a slew of various situations, of  finally feeling like I had a grasp on this nonsense, I thought I had my reactions all figured out! Oof, how much I am still learning!

It was a truly humbling experience to not only been knocked off my safe buoy in the sea of anaphylactic up’s and down’s, but in such a visibly & unattractive manner. I truly felt like the Hunchback of Notre Dame! (So much so that I insisted we not take any pictures to document the flare-up… sorry, guys, but no visuals of the “incident.”)

Backsliding to Benadryl is bound to happen. Almost like a metaphor for life, we will inevitably be caught off guard. From time to time, we will find ourselves physically compromised and feel vulnerable as a result.

A few important things to remember:

    • ALWAYS be prepared
      Carry Benadryl, an epipen, a snack bar, whatever you need to carry to keep your personal anti-allergy arsenal fully stocked. Think ahead, plan ahead, and pack your purse.

      Cope, benadryl, anaphylactic, nuts, allergies, food allergies
      Sisterly support definitely helped me cope!
    • Make sure those around you know your triggers and will support you
      Thankfully, my dinner date has known me my whole life and has been there for previous reactions. She recognized the symptoms and was sensitive to how I needed to handle. She kept an eye on me and asked me throughout the evening if I was doing ok and if I needed anything. That kind of support helped me stay calm and feel comforted – a HUGE help in the throes of backsliding.
    • Don’t beat yourself up
      It was hard for me to quiet the gut response, “I should have known better.” Eh, shoulda, coulda, woulda as they say. I did the best I could with the situation, thinking all was safe on the plate, and yes, I made a mistake, but I handled the unfortunate consequence effectively because I had packed my trusty antihistamines. Next time, I’ll know. Speak kindly to yourself as you care for yourself in the recovery of any reaction. The chemicals and adrenaline are pumping to help you survive, and the last thing your physical body needs is introducing the stress hormones that result when we beat ourselves up.
    • Give yourself time to bounce back
      Again, the chemical response that ensues after your body combats the histamine response has physical and emotional effects that last beyond that 2-20 minute reaction time. Take it easy the next couple of hours or days. Listen to what your body needs and honor those messages. If we don’t take care of our bodies, where will we live? Check in with yourself and take care of you.

Here’s to fewer Benadryl-Epinephrine aperitifs!