What Are The Differences Between A Dairy Allergy And A Dairy Intolerance?
Many people think that allergies and intolerances are the same thing. However, the biological processes behind them are, in fact, totally different.
Food allergies are an immediate, potentially life threatening reaction to foods – such as dairy products. Symptoms may come on very quickly, often within minutes of eating the food. Approximately 2% of the UK’s adult population suffer from food allergies, and reactions are usually for life.
With a food allergy, your body produces IgE antibodies. Food-specific IgG (food intolerance) reactions, meanwhile, are usually delayed and are not life-threatening, though they can make life difficult. Food intolerances are also not necessarily lifelong. You can find out more on the differences between allergy and intolerance here.
In addition to dairy allergies and intolerances, milk allergies and lactose intolerance can also incite further confusion.
What Is The Difference Between Dairy Intolerance And Lactose Intolerance?
The difference between lactose and dairy intolerance is significant. While lactose intolerance is caused by a reaction to the sugar in milk, it is NOT the same as a dairy intolerance or allergy.
Lactose intolerance is a digestive issue which is caused by an enzyme deficiency. People who suffer from lactose intolerance don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase and as such are unable to fully digest lactose, which is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. There are some dairy products that contain low amounts of lactose – for example butter, some yoghurts, kefir and certain hard cheeses.
There are some similarities between lactose intolerance and both dairy allergies and intolerances. For example, the reaction of a lactose intolerance can be delayed, similar to an IgG reaction to dairy. However, lactose intolerance is for life, much like an allergy.
If you have a dairy intolerance (defined by yorktest as a food-specific IgG reaction), your body reacts negatively to a protein within dairy – often casein, albumin, whey or a combination. This means that you should look to remove all animal milks – such as cow, sheep or goat – from your diet, unless each is separately tested for.
If you suspect you might have a lactose intolerance, please consult your GP as a first port of call. They may perform certain tests which could diagnose the deficiency, such as a hydrogen breath test.