What’s the difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergy?

Whole cow’s milk is composed of 87% water and 13% protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, and vitamins. Lactose is the main carbohydrate and is broken down by the enzyme lactase into glucose and galactose before it can be absorbed. However, some people are unable to break down the sugar, which is a condition known as lactose intolerance. Because it’s different from a milk allergy, it’s important to understand the difference between the two to avoid any unintended health conditions later.

Milk allergy occurs when the proteins in the milk bind to specific Iger antibodies, triggering the immune system’s defenses and causing a reaction. Symptoms include hives, swelling, wheezing, coughing, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and even anaphylactic shock. The allergy can be life-threatening, while lactose intolerance isn’t. Instead, people with lactose intolerance are unable to digest the lactose and develop gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, cramps, gas, and diarrhea. Depending on the severity of the condition, lactose intolerance can result in intestinal damage.

Those with lactose intolerance can avoid symptoms by consuming lactose-free dairy products or regular dairy in small amounts. However, the problematic proteins can’t be as easily removed for those with a milk allergy; the only way they can avoid symptoms is to avoid all cow’s milk products and consume plant-based alternatives instead.

At ARCpoint Labs of The Woodlands, we offer a variety of tests to identify food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances to determine chronic immune system activations and gastrointestinal disorders, including lactose intolerance.

Schedule an appointment at ARCpoint Labs of The Woodlands today to see if milk is the cause of your stomach problems.