Symptoms of consuming Lactose
Food allergies are a very common and are often undiagnosed. Amongst the described food allergies, lactose intolerance is a well-recognized clinical condition that presents with a many symptoms. The condition can be rather distressing for patients and required is a drastic change in their diet and lifestyle.
In essence, the symptoms of lactose allergy can be mild, moderate or severe. The underlying patho-physiological reason for lactose allergy is a change in the immune levels in the body, resulting in an allergic response to milk protein.
Individuals who have lactose allergy develop symptoms within half an hour of consumption of dairy products in most cases, though symptoms can sometimes arise sooner or after 2 to 3 hours.
Some of the common symptoms that are seen in lactose allergy include sudden onset of wheezing, the development of hives or skin rash and incessant vomiting.
Some patients can develop watering of the eyes and a runny nose as well. In babies, abdominal colic is a presenting feature.
Of course, that can be some milder symptoms such as –
1. Bloating sensation after consumption of dairy products. This is a common symptom that patients experience.
2. Excessive bowel sounds which the patient feels like a ‘gurgling’ within the abdomen
3. Excessive flatulence
4. Increase the frequency of bowel motions or loose stools
5. Nausea and vomiting after consuming milk and milk-based products
6. Pain in the abdomen that is often relieved after opening the bowels
The above symptoms can sometimes be confused with lactose intolerance.
While the two conditions are almost the very same when it comes to the reason why they develop (i.e. dairy), symptoms that are seen with lactose allergy are often a lot more severe.
Furthermore, lactose allergy is a form of immune response to milk protein while lactose intolerance is caused due to undigested lactose within the bowel.
Patients who have lactose allergy are not able to consume any form of daily or dairy products whatsoever, while those who have lactose intolerance can occasionally consume some form of milk without developing symptoms.
Though this clinical distinction remains, many a time individuals consider these two conditions to be one and the same.
Serious lactose allergy also exists and can result in what is known as an anaphylactic reaction. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment in hospital.
Clinical symptoms can include acute breathlessness due to constriction of the airways, severe itching, development of a rash and a significant drop in blood pressure.
Patients require adrenaline and steroids to manage this.
Once a diagnosis of lactose allergy has been made, patients may need additional tests to confirm the diagnosis.
If symptoms are serious, patients may require hospitalization and close monitoring until symptoms subside. The best treatment is prevention and involves complete avoidance of lactose rich foods i.e. dairy.
Lactose allergy is a well-recognized condition. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and the best treatment includes complete avoidance of milk and milk products.