Being lactose intolerant or allergic to cow’s milk mean two very different things, but they are often confused. However, it is important to distinguish between the two because, if wrongly diagnosed, a person suffering from one could end up still consuming the wrong products and find themselves wondering why their health isn’t improving. Similarly, some products could get cut out of the person’s diet unnecessarily – and as many people enjoy dairy, it’s not hard to see why this would be considered an unwanted side effect!
The difference between the two conditions is significant, but they are both still serious problems that must be addressed. Lactose intolerance is just that: an intolerance to lactose, the sugar found in milk products, which can result in a variety of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, bloating and diarrhoea. The treatment for the condition is to avoid consuming lactose – though this can be found in more products than you think. Lactose features frequently in the ingredient list for biscuits, fruit bars, iced tea and even on the coating for oral medicines. However, with a little research, the offending products can be identified and removed from the sufferer’s diet.
A milk allergy, however, can have very severe symptoms which is why it is crucial to determine whether the sufferer has this or more treatable lactose intolerance. The allergy is triggered by proteins found in milk and can cause a variety of reactions, from skin rashes and vomiting to breathing problems, stunted growth in children especially and even anaphylaxis – a very severe allergic response where the entire body is affected. If you suspect you may be allergic to cow’s milk, it is essential to consult a professional to determine if you do have a milk allergy and its severity before proceeding to alter your diet as your doctor recommends.
Sufferers from either lactose intolerance or a milk allergy are still perfectly capable of enjoying a varied and satisfactory diet. Lactose intolerant people can still enjoy real dairy which has the lactose filtered out and milk allergy sufferers can switch to soy, rice and oat alternatives to continue enjoying the same baking and cooking that they always have! So if you are allergic to milk proteins or suffer from lactose intolerance there are plenty of options out there that mean you can still enjoy all your favourite food and drinks.