So you all know this week we’ve decided to talk about food allergies. This is a topic that is familiar to many of you out there, and it’s very familiar to me. Aside from my many non-food alergies that have earned me the nickname “bubble girl” among my friends, I also am allergic to garlic, paprika, and cows milk.
For any of you who suffer from a milk allergy (and yes I do consider it suffering) you have probably faced those people who say “so you mean you’re lactose intolerant?” If we were lactose intolerant don’t you think we would say that?
Lactose intolerance is an inability of the body to metabolize lactose, a sugar found in milk products, because your body is missing the enzyme lactase that is required for that process. The symptoms of lactose intolerence are cramping, diarrhea, and gas. It is common for lactose intolerance to have an on-set later in life as many adults will have a decrease in lactase enzymes as they age. It can be diagnosed easily through a simple blood glucose test. (via)
A milk allergy is a entirely different, and much more dangerous reaction to milk. It is when your bodies immune system responds negatively to one or more of the protein’s in cows milk, most commonly Casein and whey. (via)
Milk allergy can cause swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, face or throat. It can also lead to hives, rashes and itchy skin and eyes. In addition, milk allergies can commonly lead to respiratory problems such as nasal congestion, coughing, and asthma. These are just some of the less severe reactions. In some circumstances people can go into anaphylactic shock which can be life threatening. Anaphylactic shock a reaction consisting of extreme itching, swelling of the throat, sweating, rapid heart beat, low blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea, and shock. (via)
What should you do if this happens?
1. If you have an Epi-Pen (and you should if you have a milk allergy or any other severe food allergy) inject it immediately yourself or have someone else who knows how inject it for you. I was also told in First Aid Training that if you are someone that is prone to allergy attacks you should always carry Benadryl with you. If you are not within 15 minutes of a hospital and you can still safely swollow you should take two Benadryl in addition to your Epi-Pen.
2. Call an ambulance if you can’t get to the hospital or get someone to drive to the hospital as fast and safely as you can.
Time is of the essense if you are having an allergy attack. I have had the unpleasant experience of going into anaphylactic shock and it can be one of the most frightening experiences you’ll go through. But thankfully everything turned out okay because I thought ahead of time about what to do incase the worst should happen and my friends and family were all very aware of my allergies. So be prepared and don’t be embarassed to tell people around you. It could save your life.
If you are unsure if you are allergic to milk or any other food the best thing to do is consult your physician. They can work with you to help you diagnose your allergies and then prescribe an Epi-Pen if you need one. Also it can be important to work with a nutrtionist if you find it hard to read food labels and don’t know what you can and can’t eat.
When I found out I was allergic to milk it was really hard to find foods that didn’t contain milk. It’s estimated that almost 50% of foods in the average grocery store will have a milk ingredient in it. I found it suprising what all had milk in it. Most crackers do, potato chips, some margarines, bread, and even some deli meat all have milk in it or have come in contact with milk. So read labels really carefully and don’t be embarassed to ask a lot of questions.
I find that a lot of times it’s just easier to make things yourself then have to worry about if something is safe to eat. One of the things that people with milk allergies miss out on most often is baking, especially chocolate baking. Divvies Bakery, founded by Lori Sandler, felt that way when she found out that her son had significant food allergies. She started a bakery that caters to people who have food allergies. Her recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes is truly amazing, ecspecially when paired with her dairy-free Vanilla Icing.