Dairy intolerance has become a widespread problem, with the recent studies claiming that almost 75% of the world’s population is dairy intolerant or lactose intolerant. The allergies affecting most people are usually casein allergy and lactose intolerance.
A person with dairy intolerance is not able to digest casein or lactose. Lactose is commonly called milk sugar found in milk and dairy products and casein is the protein found in milk. Lactose intolerance is more common than casein allergy with casein allergy amounting to around 2 to 3% only.
What Are Signs Of Dairy Intolerance?
An individual with dairy intolerance will present with signs of pain in abdomen, flatulence, diarrhea, swelling in abdomen, nausea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome. Other symptoms associated with lactose intolerance are nutritional deficiencies, irritability and depression.
The signs and symptoms of dairy intolerance vary from individual to individual depending on their tolerance and sensitivity level. Casein allergy can also cause eczema, skin rashes and hives, swollen lips and tongue, itchy, red and watery eyes, headache, sinus pain, lethargic behavior, fatigue or weakness, leaky gut and sometimes respiratory problems as well such as wheezing and chest tightness.
Dairy intolerance usually results due to genetic factors. A person’s genetic makeup determines how much lactase will be produced, which aids in digestion of lactose. A deficiency of lactase leads to dairy intolerance. Other conditions, which can cause dairy sensitivity, are parasitic infestations, deficiency of iron, and gastroenteritis. These lead to sensitive gut and inhibit function and production of lactase. A food intolerance to milk protein can be outgrown, but if you are lactose intolerant the condition cannot be outgrown. Occasional digestive enzymes are helpful in reducing the symptoms.
Testing for Dairy Intolerance
The reaction usually manifests itself in 2 to 72 hours of taking food. It is a milk specific allergy similar to an IgG antibody reaction.
Testing milk intolerance is simple and easy. York test or FirstStep test indicator gives a simple yes or no result for food intolerance. Other tests for dairy intolerance include:
Hydrogen Breath Test: In this test you are given a liquid lactose solution to drink after which you have to breathe into a balloon like instrument that measures the amount of hydrogen present in your breath. The amount of hydrogen determines if your body can digest lactose or not. The more amount of hydrogen present in your breath the more lactose intolerant you are (meaning your body is not able to digest lactose). A breath test having hydrogen more than 12 parts per million is indicative of lactose intolerance.
Lactose Intolerant Test: In this test doctor takes a sample of your blood to determine the amount of glucose present in your blood after two hours of drinking a lactose solution. If blood glucose levels increase, then you are not lactose intolerant; however, if glucose levels do not increase, it indicates that your body is unable to process lactose.
Stool Acidity Test: This test is done for children and infants who cannot undergo other tests for lactose intolerance. The child drinks a lactose solution. After sometime a stool sample is taken for acid test. If the individual’s body cannot digest lactose then lactic acid appears in the stool, which turns the stools acidic, whereas a normal stool is not acidic indicating lactose intolerance.
Skin Prick Test: A dairy allergen is placed under your skin on your forearm and if leads to a bump with itchy red skin surrounding it, it indicates a dairy allergy. Sometimes false positive results can also appear and in order to confirm the intolerance another oral challenge may be taken in which you are fed milk products and reaction against them is seen.
Treating Lactose Intolerance
It can be managed easily by decreasing the intake of dairy products. Alternative lactose free products can be consumed, which do not produce symptoms. Over the counter enzymes can be taken before hand to control symptoms. In the long run, eliminating dairy products is beneficial.