The 6 May 2016

Differences between intolerance and milk allergy

Lactose intolerance and allergic to milk protein are often confused because they have a common cause, but there are important differences in the characteristics, symptoms and treatment that we need to clarify.

Lactose intolerance

What characterizes the lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (natural milk sugar) because the enzyme responsible for this digestion, lactase, is produced in a small amount or is not produced by the body. It is more common as a primary deficiency, i.e. will progress over time, starting usually in adolescence and keeping until adulthood and old age. Can also arise as a result of other intestinal disease or syndrome that affects this organ, as the short bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease for example. In children is more rare to witness this picture, but can occur for any congenital deficiency, i.e. some genetic problem that doesn't allow the production of lactase.


The symptoms are very unpleasant, among them are:

  • colic
  • gases
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • abdominal distension

These symptoms often take a few minutes to manifest after drinking milk or milk products, or foods that use milk in the preparation.


The treatment of this disorder is made from the diet and some medications. Once diagnosed, the restrictive diet should be initiated, and may not be any food to produce milk in composition in order that the symptoms improve. Then, the food may be reintroduced slowly to show how much tolerated lactose without manifesting any symptoms. It is very important to know what is this amount, since milk is the best source of calcium in our diets. Another viable way is to ingest their own lactase, in capsule or powder dissolved in water before consumption of some dairy. She will act digesting the lactose and calcium will be absorbed.

For children

Children should be breastfed chest usually intolerant, extremely rare cases the baby has milk intolerance. If this is the case, breast milk can be replaced by a special milk lactose-free formula.

Milk protein allergy

What characterizes the allergy is the abnormal reaction of the immune system at present in milk proteins (casein, Alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin). This manifestation of immune system is much more common in babies and children, being rarer happened after those periods. There are two possible causes for the emergence of allergy to milk. One of them is the genetics, because parents who have allergy or allergic history in the family has bigger chance of having children also allergic. Another possible cause is the early introduction of cow's milk in baby food, once your immune system is still developing, the presence of foreign substances can cause this abnormality.


Several symptoms may characterize the milk allergy:


  • redness
  • itching
  • swelling of the lips and eyelids
  • eyes watering
  • skin peeling


  • vomiting
  • colic
  • diaper rash
  • constipation (constipated)
  • diarrhea (may submit blood)
  • difficult to swallow (swallow saliva and other foods)
  • regurgitation


  • frequent cough
  • runny nose
  • trouble breathing

There are still other more severe symptoms that can happen as a result of allergy to milk as delays in growth and anaphylaxis, which consists of the swelling and closing of the throat and can be fatal.


Some medications may be prescribed to improve symptoms so the diagnosis is established. The diet may not contain any product, or food with milk in its composition. Components such as whey and casein indicate the presence of protein and should also be excluded from the diet. It's even important to check whether the label tells you whether the purchased product has been processed or passed by any instrument that has contact with milk in some way.

Parents who have children with symptoms when need be provided with syringes of epinephrine in case of emergencies.

Gradually some children may acquire tolerance by introducing tiny amounts of milk diluted with liters of water, or simply with the passage of time, while others may never cure the allergy. Everything depends on the type of reaction of the persistence in the correct treatment.

For breastfeeding mothers

The mother who has allergic child must maintain a diet free of dairy products, with a prescription and the care of a nutritionist. In the case of children and babies who are not breastfed in the chest, a special formula for allergy sufferers should be introduced.


IMPORTANT: all diagnosis and treatment should be made with a doctor and/or dietitian. In the presence of any of these symptoms, see a doctor to be carried out tests that allow the correct diagnosis.


We have a story that reflects well on the intolerance to certain foods. You can use it to teach your son because he cannot eat certain foods.

Get to know the story: what I cannot eat.


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This article was written by

Neither too much Nor too little

The Not too much Or Less is a blog written by nutritionists. Nivea and Leticia, before the profession are young women going through everyday situations like every woman in a metropolis.

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