When most people think of allergies, they think of the major culprits, such as environmental elements and peanuts. While not as widespread of a problem, milk poses an equal risk for some children. If you think your child might have a milk allergy, here are some of the things you want to look out for.
What Exactly Is A Milk Allergy?
Your child's immune system has one primary function – to ward off infection. For children who are allergic to milk, when they consume it, their immune system reacts to the proteins found within the milk, almost as if it were a dangerous infection. These two proteins are whey and casein. Without going too technical, whey is the liquid part of the milk and casein is the chunkier protein.
When a child with a milk allergy comes in contact with these proteins, this causes their immune system to react aggressively. A part of this includes the natural release of histamines into the body. This course of action is what leads to the outward reaction you may have witnessed.
Recognizing a milk allergy begins with looking at the symptoms. Common symptoms include hives, vomiting and in extreme cases anaphylaxis, a serious reaction that leads to tightness in the throat, difficulty breathing, increased heartbeat and cardiac arrest. This type of reaction requires immediate medical assistance.
When diagnosing symptoms, timing is important. Generally, if your child is allergic to milk, these symptoms will occur almost immediately or shortly thereafter. A reaction isn't likely to occur several days, or even weeks, after coming in contact with the milk.
Make sure you aren't confusing lactose intolerance with a milk allergy. If your child isn't experiencing the above symptoms, but instead is experiencing an episode of abdominal cramps, diarrhea or gas, this is more likely to be a case of lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is simply a digestive issue, not an allergy.
Having your child tested for a milk allergy generally involves a blood or skin-prick test. Both of these tests examine whether immunoglobulin antibodies are present when either the skin or blood comes in contact with the milk. For the blood test, blood is extracted and tested, which can take time depending on the lab.
With a skin-prick test, the skin is pricked and a small amount of milk is allowed to seep into the skin. The allergist watches the area for a predetermined period of time to see if a reaction occurs, providing immediate results.
If your child doesn't have a milk allergy, you can rest at ease. If your child does have an allergy, having this testing performed will allow you the opportunity to provide your child with the proper treatment and preventive tools.
For allergy testing, contact a company such as Alaska Natural Health Solutions.