Help! I'm Allergic to Milk and I'm An Adult!
Makes Me Want a Glass
A Brief Personal Account
Many mothers know that special care needs to be taken when first giving there babies cow milk for the first time. The risk is sufficient enough that the baby could be allergic to it to cause mothers to be wary. But it isn't until you know someone who is allergic to milk that you begin to understand how it severely limits the food that can be consumed.
My mother found out she was allergic to milk a few years ago. Suddenly, the pain that she went through day in and day out made perfect sense. She only suffered when she had anything made with milk. She found this out by doing what anybody trained in nursing would do: removed parts of her diet to see if she felt better. But simply avoiding ice cream, milk, chocolate, and cheese wasn't enough. She reacts to the great-great-grandson twice removed of milk. Anything that once was milk or apart of milk reacts to her.
Lactose Intolerant Versus Milk Allergy
Those that are Lactose Intolerant are essentially unable to produce enough enzymes in their digestive track to take care of the milk proteins. This can lead to bloating, cramps, nausea, and many other symptoms that can be confused for being allergic.
Having a milk allergy means that your body is unable to correctly identify milk and sends out reinforcements to attack it, much like what it does when it's fighting off a virus. The antibodies that are produced to fight the "evil" milk can create the chemical histamine. Thus, the signs of the allergy come into being and the myriad of possible symptoms become present.
It pretty much is never a good idea to decide that you have an allergy all by yourself. You need a doctor to verify it. But if you think that milk is an issue, create a diary of what you have eaten, the symptoms that appeared after it, and how long it took for those symptoms to appear. Then take your diary to your doctor and ask about it.
Antibodies . . . They Fight Milk Sometimes
What Is This Feeling?
There are many symptoms that a person can have when they are allergic to something. The most prominent that comes to mind are the symptoms that people get when allergic to air-borne allergens, such as pollen, dust, and animal dander; you get itchy, red eyes, a runny noes, congestion, trouble breathing, et cetera.
Having a milk allergy can give you these symptoms. But it can also affect your skin with rashes and bumps, and swelling. These two categories, respiratory and skin, have some pretty "happy" problems. But the one that I think is the most horrible is the gastrointestinal track category. These symptoms feature vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain by cramps.
This allergy can also put a person into anaphylaxis shock. This is serious. Your airway constricts and you are pretty much suffocating. Your blood pressure can drop and you can pass out. If you have that severe of an allergy, you NEED to get your butt to the hospital.
The symptoms can start within a few minutes to a few hours. They can last for less than a day up to about three (which is usually how long it takes for something to get out of your system). I even knew a person, outside of my mother, whose symptoms hung around for about a week, although they were not extremely severe. It all depends and your body.
Great-Great Grandson, twice . . . What?
As stated above, anything that had touched milk can not be consumed by my mother. It limits what she can eat and ruins my "I'll make dinner for you tonight, Mom!" schemes for when I'm trying to get on her good side. But hey, food manufacturers are on our side, right?
They can put on their labels "Made in a plant that handles milk" and other warnings, but some other products don't come out and say that. So it's finding out the hard way or reading ingredients. I wish (and so does my mother) that I could believe the "Dairy-Free" signs on labels. But I can not. Although those products may not directly have milk in them, they can have a milk protein that was removed from milk and refined and processed--but it is still milk.
Labels are now our only friends, and those lists of ingredients are our allies. You quickly learn the code for those distant relatives of milk. Here are some.
- casein, calcium casein, casein hydrolysate, magenesium casein, potassium casein, rennet casein, sodium casein, butter, butter flavoring, butter oil, artificial butter flavoring, butter fat, lactalbumin, lactoalbumin phosphate, lactaglobulin, lactose, margarine, whey, whey hydrolysate.
It takes a while to spot the milk product just by looking at a label. And with a milk allergy, you can always search Google to see if the particular ingredient you are wary about is related to milk. But, overall, this means you have to watch the ingredients on everything: bread, cereal, fruit drinks, soups, snack bars, cakes, butter substitutes, and even vegan foods and salad dressings. Dairy pops up everywhere.
So What Can I Eat?
Diet is severely limited. After reading everything on the label and after deducing that you can eat it, you begin to remember that particular item. You start to collect a list of all the things you can still eat and you start to invent ways of preparing other things without the use of milk.
And example of the above are brownies. Some brownie mixes do not have milk or any milk bi-product in them. You have to read the ingredients and forgo those really fancy ones with the fudge swirls. You read the instructions and they say to put a cup or two of milk in it. This is when you experiment. You can put soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk in it and see how you like the outcome. You can also just add a little water and fill up the rest of it with oil (this makes the brownies really, really gooey and soft. But this can get you into trouble if you also have a gallbladder problem.)
But there will always be those things that you can not eat. You will get tired of the same type of bread (that has no milk in it) and you will get tired of the same staples. You will start to miss the days of pizza and, maybe, start to hate the days of tomato pie. But once you have a handle on your allergy, you can eat a lot. There is life after a diagnosis of a milk allergy.
Tomato Pie--Pizza Without Cheese
But I Love Ice Cream!
Everyone loves some sort of dairy product; be it ice cream, cheese, or just plain ol' milk for cereal. It can be a huge blow once you realize you can not have that creamer in your coffee or that mixed-drink made with vanilla ice cream. And those around you will continue to eat their milk-laden stuff.Yet, you must refrain.
Remember your symptoms after you've realized you've been staring at your friend's chocolate bar like a ravenous wolf. Once you have your symptoms firmly in your mind, think one question: Is the two to five minutes of milky-goodness worth the pain? You will probably say "no" and then quickly run away for get some sorbet or soy ice cream to help your sweet tooth. Just keep on asking "Is it worth it" and it should help.
Having a milk allergy is pretty sucky. I don't know what I would do without my hot chocolate on a cold winter's night. But you must do what you must do, and provoking your allergy could make it worse.
Either way, good luck with your new-found diet. You will soon find out the benefits of being off milk. Keep on going and know that you are not alone in the freezer that holds the soy ice cream.