Is it lactose intolerance or a milk allergy?

Milk allergy

Is it lactose intolerance or a milk allergy?

Being a parent has its challenges. The additional worry of your child having an allergy or digestive problem is just extra weight on our shoulders. And to add to that, these problems can be hard to identify. 

Lactose intolerance and milk allergy seem so similar. They both cause some unpleasant symptoms. And in both cases, dairy products are to blame. You might even think they’re the same condition. But how do they differ from one another?

What happens in the body?

Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body cannot digest lactose – a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. While unpleasant, lactose intolerance is not an allergy or life-threatening.

A milk allergy is an abnormal response from the immune system. It mistakenly identifies certain proteins in milk as harmful. An allergic reaction to milk can range from mild, irritating symptoms to anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. Fortunately, according to the NHS, babies diagnosed with the condition can grow out of it.


Lactose intolerance causes some unpleasant symptoms but, since it’s not an allergy, they aren’t life-threatening. These symptoms include nausea, bloating, diarrhoea, and stomach pains and cramps.

Symptoms of a milk allergy can occur soon after consumption or take a few hours to develop. Immediate symptoms can include hives, wheezing, itching, coughing, and vomiting. Some take longer to become noticeable such as diarrhoea (sometimes bloody), watery eyes, runny nose, and colic in babies. In the worst cases, it can lead to anaphylaxis.

Controlling lactose intolerance and milk allergy

Simply avoiding dairy products is a way to treat lactose intolerance. Avoiding the causes of milk allergy can be a bigger challenge, though. Casein and whey are the two main proteins in milk and can be found in some products you might not expect, such as canned tuna and sausage. Some milk proteins have even been found in chewing gum. 

Allergies and intolerances can be hard to detect in children and babies. We need to be hypervigilant for any potential symptoms. If you suspect your child has a milk allergy, you should take them to see an allergist immediately.

To ensure your child is healthy, it’s always best to consult an expert. Put your mind at ease. Book an allergy test with Allergy Clinic London today on 02031 433 449.

Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved