It is the question that most people will have an answer to, ‘Do you have any allergies?’ Most people will say yes to something, mainly hay-fever, but it can be a problem that requires lifelong maintenance.
Dairy allergy is one of the more common allergies, and in some cases may not even be diagnosed. It is usually done by a process of elimination, withdrawing certain foods and then re-introducing and measuring the results.
An allergy is different to an intolerance, however some people incorrectly use the words interchangeably.
- An allergy refers to the body’s response to an ‘allergen’. This is the body’s immune system responding to the allergen which the body has assessed as threatening, when ordinarily it would not cause harm.
- An intolerance usually only caused digestive problems such as diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and gas.
There are many different allergies and the list seems to be growing. From the common hay-fever, peanut allergy and animal allergy. To more less common types such as latex and antibiotics.
Dairy allergies give many and varied symptoms which can include:
- Skin rashes-This is usually an urticarial type rash which is also commonly known as hives or nettle rash. In some cases the skin may just appear redder than normal.
- Rhinitis-Rhinitis is also called inflammation of the nasal passages which can cause nasal congestion or running of the nose as well as sneezing.
- Angio-oedema-This is a medical term used when the tissues of the face become swollen. This is typically seen around the eyes and mouth. It can cause swelling inside the mouth and is a medical emergency.
- Conjunctivitis-Also known as eye inflammation which will cause itchy watering eyes which may feel stingy or burning.
- Collapse of the cardio vascular system-This is a medical emergency as can lead to sudden death. The reason this will occur is that the chemicals being released during the body’s process of fighting the allergen cause the blood pressure to drop , this helps to not pump the allergen around the body quickly and so it the body trying to protect itself however if this gets too severe the heart will stop in the process.
- Breathing difficulties-The first symptom of this may be coughing or wheezing or a feeling that the throat is closing off. This again is a medical emergency and should be treated quickly.
- Abdominal pain-particularly noticeable for dairy allergies. This can be quite severe at time depending on the amount of dairy eaten.
- Nausea and vomiting-this is cause by the body’s protective mechanisms, again depending on what the allergy is. This can be quite common with egg allergies.
- Palpitations-This can be psychological or as a result of rapid blood pressure shifting.
How to protect Yourself
- Always carry antihistamines-these can reduce and stop the symptoms of an allergy.
- Try to avoid dairy products-they are sometimes hidden in other foods, particularly biscuits, cakes, sweets and ice creams.
- Check family history-dairy allergy can run in families as well as other allergies.
- Have a blood test or skin prick to find the exact cause of the allergy. There are other tests as well.
In some cases, the allergy is so severe (like with peanut allergies) that a person needs to carry around a special kit to prevent them from going into an anaphylactic shock. They also need to go to the hospital of course, but the kit will save their lives.
If you think that you may be suffering from an allergy, you need to seek medical advice. If you have an allergy to dairy or some other food related allergy, this can in extreme circumstances lead to an anaphylactic attack that can be very serious. Simple tests can be carried out to find out what you are allergic to and how severe it is. It will also give you the peace of mind that you know what your symptoms are.
The best way to prevent a problem is of course to avoid the trigger all together however, this is not always possible so taking the appropriate precautions is a great way to stop an attack from happening. With these precautions in place, most people can lead a perfectly normal life and will have no problems from their allergies.