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What is the difference between Lactose Intolerant and Milk Allergy

What is the difference between Lactose Intolerant and Milk Allergy
One of life's little headaches with having an allergy to milk is getting fed up with being told I need to buy lactose free products. Most people will recognised that those with milk allergy have to avoid consuming Cows milk but it can also include other animals such as goat or sheep. Let me explain the differences between lactose intolerance and milk allergy.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk. There is an enzyme in the digestive tract called lactase, this helps breakdown the lactose. As we age the levels of lactase decrease so people have trouble digesting lactose. This often results in bloating, diarrhea and gas. It is very uncomfortable but not life threatening. On the other hand a milk allergy is when the immune system reacts to the proteins in milk. This means you are allergic to the whey or casein (you can be allergic to both). Allergies can be life threatening (anaphylactic shock) or you may experience hives or difficulty breathing. My milk allergy has been confirmed by Doctors through skin prick tests. I have yet to experience anaphylactic shock but I will get hives, eczema, sinus problems, glue ear, asthma, joint pain and gastric distress. FYI gastric distress is the polite term for saying you get the shits. Think of the worse case of diarrhea you have ever experienced, now times that by a million, add on top of that a pain similar to being kick in the stomach by a donkey, then you'll be pretty close to this symptom. 

I have had some weird questions over the years about my milk allergy. The strangest was at a reception where hotel staff asked "Can you have cheese? We were not sure". Milk allergy also means no butter, buttermilk, cream, chocolate, ice cream and yoghurts. You also get the odd curve ball product where you wouldn't expect to find milk for example bread and tomato ketchup. Just recently I was moaning about ice lollies as some contain milk (Del Monte is one I can name off top of my head). Many people make the mistake of thinking dark chocolate is free from milk but that isn't always the case.

So there you go folks you have learnt something new this afternoon. FYI Lactofree is not suitable for milk allergy, they have removed the lactose but it still is cows milk.

Sarah x