Casein allergies, or milk allergies, are a relatively common health concern, particularly among those with dairy sensitivities. This type of allergy stems from the body’s immune response to casein, a protein found in milk and dairy products.
It is estimated that between two and six percent of children suffer from an allergy to the casein protein during their first year of life. While casein allergies are commonly found in children, casein allergies can also affect adults.
Whey is another protein in milk that commonly causes allergic reactions. To determine which protein a milk allergy patient is allergic to, allergy testing is required. Often times a patient can be allergic to both casein and whey.
If you suspect a casein allergy, it is crucial to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and guidance for casein allergy treatment. Understanding casein allergy symptoms is an important step in the journey to treatment.
Casein Allergy Symptoms
Casein allergy symptoms can vary widely and often include digestive issues, skin rashes, respiratory problems and more.
- Stomach pain
- Vomiting shortly after consuming dairy
- Nasal congestion
In severe cases of a casein allergy, anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, may develop. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Shortness of breath (and/or wheezing)
- Constriction of the throat
- Persistent dizziness or collapse
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Pale and floppy (young children)
If you or your child experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
Casein Allergy Causes
In some people, the immune system’s response to casein can be too strong. This means that when they eat foods containing this protein, their bodies fight against it and in turn produce an adverse reaction.
Casein allergies can be caused by genetics. If a child’s parents have a casein allergy, it is more likely they will experience one too.
If a child is exposed to cow’s milk at an early age, they may be more prone to developing a casein allergy.
Exposure to cigarette smoke, pets, or other allergens may also increase the risk of developing a casein allergy.
Casein Allergy Testing
Casein allergy testing plays an important role in diagnosing and managing allergies to peanuts, which can be life-threatening for some individuals.
Casein allergy testing may include:
A test in which the skin is lightly pricked with a tiny amount of peanut allergen, followed by monitoring for a reaction.
Measures the levels of IgE antibodies developed by the immune system, providing valuable information about the severity of the allergy.
A blood test that evaluates a patient’s ability to tolerate specific components of allergens. A peanut allergy component test is essential in differentiating between a cross reaction to pollen or a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
A gradual process in which a patient consumes a small amount of a suspected allergen over a period of three to four hours. As serious allergic reactions can be life-threatening, it should only be conducted under the guidance of a qualified clinician.
A diet that requires you to avoid all dairy products that contain casein for a certain period of time and then reintroduce them to observe any allergic reactions.
TPIRC Diagnostics (CLIA certified) specializes in component testing of 130+ different allergens, including allergen components unavailable at national laboratories and hundreds of different biomarkers.
Foods to Avoid to Prevent Casein Allergy Reactions
It is important for individuals with a casein allergy to read ingredient labels and, when dining out, inform restaurant staff about casein allergies. People with casein allergies should avoid all foods and products containing casein or any form of milk protein. This includes the following:
- Ice Cream
- Processed foods may contain casein
- Baked goods often contain casein
- Processed meats may contain casein
- Non-Dairy products may still contain casein
- Medications and supplements may contain casein
Other Names For Milk
- Ammonium/calcium/magnesium/potassium/sodium caseinate
- Casein/caseinate/rennet casein
- Demineralized whey
- Dry milk/milk/sour cream/sour milk solids
- Hydrolyzed casein, hydrolyzed milk protein
- Lactalbumin/lactalbumin phosphate
- Modified milk ingredients
- Milk derivative/fat/protein
- Whey, whey protein concentrate
Casein Allergies vs Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is a condition in which the body is unable to break down lactose, which is a sugar found in dairy products. Casein allergy reactions are caused by an allergy to the protein called casein, which is found in dairy products like milk and cheese.
Both of these conditions can lead to diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Lactose intolerance is a not life-threatening condition, but a casein allergy may be. If you think you or your child has either of these conditions, it’s important to consult a doctor.
Casein Allergies vs Whey Allergies
Casein allergies and a whey allergies are both allergic reactions to proteins found in milk, but they involve different proteins and can have distinct symptoms.
Casein Allergies vs Whey Allergies
1 Protein Involved:
A casein allergy is an allergic reaction to the casein protein, which is the primary protein in milk and dairy products. Casein can be found in both liquid milk and dairy-derived food products.
A whey allergy, is an allergic reaction to the whey protein, which is the liquid part of milk remaining after the separation of casein during cheese production. Whey is found in smaller quantities compared to casein in dairy products.
Casein allergies and whey allergy symptoms can be similar, but casein allergies are more severe.
3 Food Avoidance:
People with a casein allergy need to avoid all dairy products containing casein, while those with a whey allergy should avoid foods and drinks that contain whey protein. Cross-contamination between casein and whey can be a concern in food processing, so careful label reading is essential for both allergies.
Casein Allergy Treatment
For those with casein allergies, the only proven food allergy treatment that makes it possible to achieve remission is the Food Allergy Institute’s Tolerance Induction Program™ (TIP).
TIP™ builds tolerance to the unique proteins each individual is allergic to, all before introducing their most anaphylactic allergen(s).
This ensures patient safety, and over time alters their immune system to not react to any of their allergens. Once an individual has reached remission, they can eat like anyone without a food allergy for the rest of their life.
OIT and similar food allergy treatments aim to desensitize patients to protect them from “accidental exposure.” Through TIP™, patients can eat as freely as a non-allergic person would.
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