What Your Pediatrician Wants You To Know #5
Have you noticed that a lot of parents throw the terms ‘lactose intolerance’ and ‘milk allergy’ around very loosely? But do they know the difference between the two?
Lactose intolerance occurs in children who cannot digest lactose because they do not have enough of the enzyme, lactase, in their intestines to break it down. Lactose is the sugar found in milk and other dairy products such as ice cream and soft cheeses. So instead of being digested, the lactose remains in the intestines, feeding intestinal bacteria and causing the uncomfortable symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.
A milk allergy, on the other hand, is a food allergy caused by an allergic reaction to the protein found in milk. The body perceives the protein to be harmful, and releases chemicals such as histamine, inducing an allergic reaction.
So how can you tell the difference between the two?
Many parents often confuse milk allergy with lactose intolerance as their symptoms are similar. If you suspect your child has lactose intolerance, here are the symptoms you can look out for:
- stomach cramps
These symptoms can occur anywhere from 30 minutes after eating or drinking lactose-containing foods.
A milk allergy can also cause these same symptoms, but because milk allergy is an immune system response, babies who are allergic to cow’s milk will more than likely present the following symptoms as well:
- skin rash
- runny nose
- swelling of lips or throat
If you’re concerned that your child has either lactose intolerance or milk allergy, rather make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician so that he or she can make a clinical diagnosis.