Difference Between Milk Allergy and Lactose Intolerance

Milk allergy and lactose intolerance are 2 different phenomena that are still often misunderstood. Even though the two diseases have few or no common characteristics, many individuals have difficulty differentiating one from the other.


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In this essay, the two words are distinguished head-on to dispel any lingering confusion about the difference between allergy and intolerance.

As lactose is an active constituent of milk, many people mistakenly believe that milk and lactose are the same things. However, the distinctions between the two situations may surprise you!

Key Takeaways

  1. Milk allergy is an immune response to the protein in milk, while lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder caused by the inability to digest lactose.
  2. Milk allergy can cause severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis, while lactose intolerance causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea.
  3. Milk allergy requires completely avoiding milk and milk products, while lactose intolerance can be managed by limiting or avoiding lactose.

Milk Allergy vs Lactose Intolerance

Milk allergy is the type of allergic reaction to milk proteins that causes serious symptoms like rashes, swollen lips and difficulty in breathing. It affects young children where the immune system reacts to proteins in milk. Lactose intolerance is a type of allergic reaction to milk sugars or lactose that cause symptoms like nausea, bloating and diarrhea. Here, the person is unable to digest lactose in their body.

Milk Allergy vs Lactose Intolerance

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Milk allergy can be a severe concern for infants and kids but it can usually be outgrown through the aging process. The most frequent food allergy among infants and small children is cow’s milk.

Even though most infants outgrow their dairy or milk allergies, milk allergy remains one of the most prevalent food sensitivities among adults.

Around 70% of kids with cow milk allergies may accept baked cow milk. Baked milk is described as milk that has been cooked to a high temperature, causing the structures of proteins that cause bovine milk allergies to be disrupted.

Young kids who are intolerant to organic milk are more likely to overcome an allergy to dairy or milk at a younger age than children who respond to baked milk.

When talking about lactose intolerance, many people would be stunned to learn that most of the individuals on the planet are somehow lactose intolerant, even if their resistance isn’t severe enough to be diagnosed as lactose intolerance.

Lactose, which is present in milk, is the cause of this disease. It’s a kind of glucose that can only be broken down with the help of lactase, a naturally found molecule in the body.

Many folk’s difficulties is that they only have a limited amount of these enzymes. As a result, they couldn’t consume as much lactose since it would cause discomfort.

If lactose is not properly digested, it causes abdominal swelling owing to excessive gas production in the belly.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMilk AllergyLactose Intolerance
MeaningOne of the most prevalent allergies, notably among youngsters, is milk allergy. Once the innate immune system responds to milk protein, an allergy develops.Lactose intolerance is the inability to adequately digest the sugar (lactose) present in milk
SymptomsStomach pain, skin rashes, swollen lips, trouble in breathing, nausea.Nausea, diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating.
Preventive Measures1. Experiment with dairy alternatives. Calcium and vitamin D enriched soy, rice, oat, and walnut milks are recommended.
2. Consult your physician for information on safe food. If your infant has a milk allergy, your doctor may advise a casein-based diet that has been severely hydrolyzed.
1. Avoid dairy products and products with high lactose content. 

2. Use powdered lactase enzymes before feeding on milk products for breaking down the lactose beforehand.
Foods to AvoidFresh cow milk, cow milk curdled curd.All dairy products like cream, ice-cream, fresh milk, cheese, cottage cheese, ghee, butter, etc.
TestsAnaphylaxis test and diagnosis, skin prick test, allegra determination test.Lactose tolerance test, hydrogen breath test, stool acidity test

What is Milk Allergy?

The immunity system’s aberrant reaction to milk and milk-containing products is known as milk allergy. Milk allergy is one of the most common and severe food allergies among kids.

Milk allergies are most commonly caused by cow’s milk, although they can also be caused by milk from sheep, goats, buffalo, and other animals.

A hypersensitive reaction to milk is more likely to develop shortly after you or your kid drinks it.

Gasping for breath, spitting, rashes, and digestive difficulties are some of the clinical symptoms of milk allergy, which can range from moderate to severe.

Anaphylactic shock, a severe, life-threatening response, can also be caused by milk or dairy allergy.

Although it is rare for people to acquire a full allergy to milk, there are much more examples of people developing a hypersensitivity to it.

Allergic reactions and stomach disturbances are common symptoms of this sensitivity. If the sufferer continues to consume milk products, he or she will have persistent lung difficulties and have a diminished nutrient uptake.

Due to the obvious nature of this illness, the best way to treat milk allergies is to avoid them altogether.

According to data, around 1-7 % of all kids have a milk allergy. Milk allergy, also known as milk hypersensitivity, is an allergic reaction triggered by the protective immunity reaction due to the consumption of proteins present in milk or dairy products.

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose is the sugar found in the majority of mammal milk. Lactose intake in the intestinal wall necessitates the degradation of glycosidic bonds to the monosaccharides D-glucose and D-galactose, which are both quickly conveyed through the mucosa.

Lactose intolerance can be inherited or induced by a virus or bacteria that damage the small bowel. It’s also very widespread, with certain groups having a higher prevalence.

Lactose intolerance affects up to 80 percent of African-Americans, and it’s also widespread among Asians and Native American people.

Lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of the enzymes produced (lactase), which is required for lactose digestion. Lactose is a disaccharide, which means it’s made up of two types of sugars like glucose and sucrose (examples).

It is composed of one sugar molecule and one molecular galactose, both monosaccharides.

Lactose is converted into glucose and galactose by the enzyme lactase, which may then be taken into circulation and utilized for energy. Lactose passes through your intestines undigested if you don’t have enough lactase, causing digestive problems.

Lactose intolerance patients cannot consume large amounts of lactose without experiencing indigestion. When lactose is not properly processed, it causes abdominal swelling owing to excessive gas production in the belly.

Furthermore, when people become older, their body’s lactase levels drop. People become less tolerant to lactose consumption from milk as they age.

Lactose intolerance, contrary to dairy and milk allergies, is a less severe and frequently non-life threatening disease.

Main Differences Between Milk Allergy and lactose Intolerance

  1. Milk allergy can be life-threatening if not treated with precautions whereas lactose intolerance isn’t life-threatening.
  2. Milk allergy can cause skin rashes and fevers whereas lactose intolerance usually causes bloating and digestion problems.
  3. Milk allergy can be outgrown by age and proper diet consciousness whereas lactose intolerance has no treatment to completely make it disappear, it can only be subdued by proper eating habits and not consuming dairy products.
  4. Milk allergy requires an anaphylaxis test and diagnosis, skin prick test, Allegra determination test whereas lactose intolerance requires lactose tolerance test, hydrogen breath test, stool acidity test.
  5. Milk allergy is a type of hypersensitivity to milk proteins whereas lactose intolerance is a type of reactivity to milk sugars.
Difference Between Milk Allergy and Lactose Intolerance
  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/milk-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20375101
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/lactose-intolerance#:~:text=Lactose%20intolerance%20is%20the%20inability,and%20break%20down%20the%20lactose.
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