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Types of cow’s milk allergy

Dairy is a staple in many countries, but it is not necessarily a healthy option for many individuals, starting when they are young.

Cow’s milk allergy may either be IgE- or non-IgE-mediated, or even a combination of both.  It depends on whether the alergy/intolerance is an immune response IGE mediated or gut response lactose intolerance but can be both.

Here is a short description of each type of allergy.

IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy

In an IgE-mediated allergy, symptoms typically appear within minutes or even up to two hours after eating anything that contains the protein found in cow’s milk.  The reason for this is that the immune system reacts to the protein by producing IGE antibodies.  These antibodies have been produced by immune cells and activate the individual’s immune system in order to release certain chemicals, called histamines, which consequently triggers an allergic reaction in the body.

Symptoms for Ige-mediated cow’s milk allergy includes:

  • Symptoms on your skin, such as itchy rashes nd swelling of the lips, face or tongue
  • Symptoms of the gastrointestinal nature, such as vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach aches
  • Symptoms akin to to hay fever, such as sneezing and a runny or blocked nose
  • Having difficulty breathing

In serious cases, this type of allergic reaction may lead to anaphylaxis, which is potentially life-threatening and comes quickly, affects the entire body, and requires medical attention immediately.  Fortunately, this type of reaction is less common although the above should not be ignored. The reason for this is that an infant with a cows milk allergy that is repeatedly exposed causing effects such as diorrea and sickness is at a high risk of malabsorption of proteins and iron deficiency. As a result, this can cause stunting to growth and poor weight gain.

Non-IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy

In non-IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy, symptoms typically make themselves knowns after two hours or even up to a few days after consuming anything comprising cow’s milk and can be due to lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance means there is a lack of the enzyme Lactase which breaks down lactose which is the natural occurring sugars in the milk. Lactose is present in all mammals milk. Therefore, if your child is intolerant to cows milk there is a high chance they will not tolerate goats milk either. A lactose free milk could be a good option for those with lactose intolerance but not for cows milk allergy.

A few of the symptoms of non-IgE-mediated allergy can be comparable to those symptoms of IgE-mediated allergy. Other symptoms might present themselves as less severe, and could be mistaken for something different than an allergic reaction.

The symptoms of non-IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy could include:

  • Colic-type symptoms
  • Symptoms on your skin such as eczema and itching and even acne.
  • Symptoms of the gastrointestinal nature, such as stomach ache, constipation and unusual stools and IBS.
  • Reflux

Mixed allergic reaction

Infants and babies with an allergy to cow’s milk could possibly have mixed allergic reactions, where symptoms of both IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated allergy are prominent. What this means, is that that the symptoms could come on quickly after eating or drinking anything with cow’s milk protein.  These symptoms could also appear after a few days, so when giving your infant cow’s milk, do so with caution. Cows milk allergy (IGE mediated) and Lactose intolerance are quite common to come together. /therefore the child is allergic to cows milk protein and cannot break down the natural occuring sugars in the milk.

Contact me for assistance on a nutrition plan, for both yourself and your child.


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