ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Help! I'm Allergic to Milk and I'm An Adult!

Updated on January 24, 2012

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

Source

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?

Wrong.

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.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      That must be so difficult because so many things that we think of as ordinary foods have milk or milk products in them - lots of luxury foods do, too. Great hub. Voted it up.

    • kehussy profile image

      kehussy 5 years ago from Houston, Texas, USA

      Lactose intolerant still enjoy yummy ice creams made from soy milk, coconut milk or rice milk.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Thanks for the explanation of the difference between a milk allergy and lactose intolerance.

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Blossom,

      It is difficult at first and eating out is a real pain, but you really do learn to deal with it and find substitutes that can taste better! Thank you for your comment!

      All the Best!

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Those with lactose intolerance can opt for non-dairy ice creams, but they can also take pills that supplies the enzymes there are missing to help digest the milk proteins. If it works, then milk is still edible to them. Thank you for your comment!

      All the best!

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you for your comment! I was just thinking of what to write about when I remembered that I haven't had a good, cheesy pizza in a while because of my mother. Once again, thank you for your comment.

      All the best!

    • michiganman567 profile image

      michiganman567 5 years ago from Michigan

      no pizza, say it isn't so!! Good luck with your milk free diet. I actually had some almond milk and it wasn't too bad, but it still isn't the same as real milk.

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      I love rice milk, but almond milk is pretty good! But my I can still have milk and all those things, it's just that our family pays attention to our mother's diet. Thanks for your comment!

      All the best!

    • pfftcreature profile image

      pfftcreature 5 years ago from Central, California

      I'm lactose intolerant, which is funny because I never realized it until I was older (early twenties). It doesn't really bother me because I've never been a big fan of milk (whereas my brother should just buy his own cow!) but I love cheese and what not. I've given up almost everything except for cheese. I can't give that up. Won't do it. Haha.

      This is wonderfully written and VERY informative, thank you!

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you for your comment! It sounds like your lactose intolerance doesn't interfere with your life, and that's pretty good! You have a good attitude about it.

      All the best!

    • Keri Summers profile image

      Keri Summers 5 years ago from West of England

      Good hub Cammiebar. Good luck to your Mum. I'm intolerant enough of dairy to be vain - it affects my skin, but also I used to suffer from severe sinusitis for two months a year, and hardly do now, so yes it is worth the sacrifices. And some soy products and so on are really getting very good now. But yes, reading every ingredient is a must. Your detailed list was helpful. It's annoying when manufacturers add milk to places where you think it really can't be needed - like potato crisps. But maybe reading labels isn't such a bad thing after all. I'll pick something up to check for wheat or dairy, but sometimes end up putting it down for other reasons - like hydrologized veg fat (not good!) or too many chemicals. I think it's great that Hubpages is such a resource for sharing nutrition tips.

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you very much for your comment Keri! It can be very complicated, but when you need to watch your diet, getting advice from other people can be a huge help! Thank you once again!

      All the best!

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Very helpful hub. Voted up. I also know from Dr. McDougall about the connections to arthritis and acne from milk (and meat also). His website explains it well.

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you for your comment! I'll have to check him out. Milk does a lot of interesting things, that's for sure. Thank you, again!

      All the best!

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      I have been allergic to milk since I was a baby. As a child I would get deathly sick, as an adult it is much milder. I would have the symptoms you described, as well as swelling to my throat - that once led to me being hospitalized. In elementary school, I once got in trouble for bringing a thermos of tea with me to drink with my lunch and not taking a milk. I was taken to the office and nearly paddled because I was arguing with the principal. Once my mother was called, the principal wished that he had left me alone. I never had a problem after that.

      As an adult, I still need to be careful drinking milk or milk products, but I do give myself treats of ice cream or "real" milk in my cereal from time to time.

      I am also glad that you mentioned the difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergy - most people see them as the same thing and it bugs me!!

      Voted up and shared!

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Justateacher

      Thank you for your story. I'm glad that you can have milk every now and again. Alas, my mother can't, but it isn't so bad. As for the difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergy, I made the distinction because my family has members with one or the other. I hate it when people use the same word for two different things.

      Thanks once again and all the best!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

      Wow-- this has to be very frustrating for those affected. My mom, who was born in 1916, had trouble with cow's milk.

      Her parents-- even that long ago-- were wise enough to know that they needed a goat!!

      I think she eventually outgrew her sensitivity, but today almost all processed foods have some contact with cow's milk.

      Trying to keep diets based on fresh, raw and whole foods is a real challenge these days. When people could do that, it was easier to track down the causes of of these difficulties.

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Rochelle Frank

      You are absolutely right. It is really hard now to have a diet free of milk. Even kosher food or vegan food run the risk of having been in contact with milk (although it is a very slim risk). Your grandparents were amazing to get a goat, though.

      All the best!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      Our son was allergic to milk from birth. The milk caused ear infection and made him sound like he had a cold all the time. He can drink it now.

      Our daughter became allergic to it when she was about 25 and still has problems drinking it, causes her asthma to act up.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

      Cammie-- yes, it is amazing, but my grandmother had already lost two children (not so unusual at that time) so they were being very careful. I, my kids and my grandchildren would not be here now, if otherwise.

      Life is funny, huh?

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      That's amazing how milk affected your children. I''m glad your son is better with it, but I feel for your daughter. Thank you so much for commenting! All the best!

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Life is always funny for me, so I completely agree! All the best!

    • sen.sush23 profile image

      Sushmita 5 years ago from Kolkata, India

      Cammiebar, this is a good hub and useful too. I have a Hub on milk and I think I will add your link to it. My sister has an egg-albumin allergy so I know these allergic symptoms, specially the gastrointestinal ones. Your writing style is free flowing and easy to understand, while being interesting and entertaining. Voted up.

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Sen, thank you so much for stopping by. I'll have to check out your hub, in return! Thank you also for your comment! All the best!

    • Melanie Gladney profile image

      Melanie Gladney 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Nice hub. I,too, have dairy allergy. It takes over a week to leave my system and once left me so congested, it manifested itself shortly thereafter as pneumonia. Scary stuff.

    • Cammiebar profile image
      Author

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Melanie,

      That is pretty scary, getting pneumonia from an allergy! Thank you for commenting! All the best!

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Melanie,

      Great Hub! We both have the same picture for our hub :o)

      Lactose intolerance (not milk allergy) is usually not a problem with raw milk . Raw milk has beneficial enzymes and lactase-producing bacteria that break down and assimilate the milk sugar lactose. Pasteurized milk does not have this good bacteria since the pasteurization process kills them.

      Allergy is a whole other thing and can be very scary. My oldest son now 21 has peanut and mustard allergy . His allergies are severe, sending him into anaphylactic shock. We have been very prudent over the years so this has not happened often. It has been a never ending worry though.

      People with food allergies would benefit by looking up the 'Food Allergy Network,' they have been a great source of information and comfort over the years.

    • profile image

      meeko 4 years ago

      I am allergic to milk and soya. Have been all my 52 years. My rule is no preprepared foods. Everything from scratch. If I don't make it myself, it is not food. My little 2 year old granddaughter is allergic to milk. I would love for her to grow out of it! But then again, it makes the whole family think about what they eat. They are definitely making healthier choices. Blessings do come in disguise!

    • profile image

      olim2005 4 years ago

      It's really weird how food allergies can do things to your body that does not fit into the normal allergy- itching, sneezing, running nose category.

      If your doctor can't pinpoint what is wrong with you investigate dairy. I had horrible back pain, horrible stomach pain (which sometimes seemed like muscle pain), gas, cramps, heartburn, tietze's syndrome, swollen ankles, eczema, and some acme when it would get real bad. Cramps during my menstrual cycle.

      The doctor diagnosed me with IBS, PMS, and AS (which is a rheumatoid condition, very serious). I gave up milk because I wasn't convinced I had these things (gave up other foods to, went thru that process). Anyways- my IBS went away, PMS went away, clear skin, no chest pain, and no back pain. You have to be really careful though...some waiters do not know butter is dairy- that has screwed me over many times.

    • profile image

      exstreamliners 19 months ago

      Very interesting article. I have loved milk all my life. I especially love strawberry ice cream and cake. But, I noticed a couple of years ago I started to have an intolerance and would get acid-reflux. So, I went to 1% milk and skim milk. Then that didn't work, so I went to Lactose free milk. But now even that doesn't work. I'm in my early 50's now and I expect some "wheels" to start falling of the cart, but being allergic to Milk is not one of them.

      To make a long story short, I thought I had an allergy to Gluten because after I ate a sandwich with whole wheat bread I felt extremely bad. Not bloating or vomiting or other symptom associate with an intolerance to milk, but a real feeling of "something is eating at my body" or "I'm about to die" type feeling. At one point I can remember feeling if I could just run away from my body I would feel better...kind of feeling. I have chest pains, shortness of breath and sometimes itching and tingling of my extremities, even spikes in my blood pressure, but no rash or swelling of my airway as would be the case from severe reaction such as anaphylaxis. This feeling would last for many hours even a couple of days sometimes.

      Before I put the cart before the horse, let me say this...after multiple doctors including a neurologist and an MRI, and multiple blood tests which showed nothing significant, I called my doctor and told her I think I need checked for gluten allergy. She was smart enough to do a full workup for major food allergies and it turns out the blood test says I'm allergic to Milk. As an adult I don't know what the chances are that you can develop allergy to milk, but it must be very few. What a pain (more ways than one) it is to have an allergy to milk. I go into my kitchen pantry and I'm hard pressed to find something without milk in it. Even potato chips... can you believe it?

      Getting use to the fact that I have to live without milk is not simple. As a example, I don't usually eat at fast food places, but I was in a hurry today and got a hamburger with cheese. Being new to this allergy thing I didn't ask them to make the burger without cheese. So, I was hungry and figured a little bit of cheese won't hurt right? Wrong. My body is hurting so bad its nuts. My hands and fingers feel like pins and needles right this very minute.

      As another example, a few hours before the doctor notified me of the blood results I had a starbucks carmel macchiato. I've felt so bad for the last two days it is crazy. Anyone out there experience this as well?

      I don't know what the odds are of getting this so late in life, but I would have rather won the lottery if my odds were better....LOL

      Please share with me if you have experienced this issue after being a milk drinker most of your life. Can it really be this bad?

      Thanks, many blessings.

      Michael

    Click to Rate This Article