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Milk Allergies - How To Live With This Common Allergy

Many people mistakenly believe that they are allergic to dairy products, when in reality they are only sensitive (or intolerant) to the sugars found in milk and dairy. When a person is lactose intolerant, they may experience a variety of unpleasant side effects from dairy products including flatulence (gas), diarrhea, skin rash and fatigue within hours of eating them.

However, some people do have a true "allergy" to cow's milk that may cause the immune system to go into overdrive, trying to beat off the offending allergen. This can cause such simple things as irritating skin rashes, and general fatigue. Or, in more rare instances, breathing difficulties when the immune system begins to swell the throat, causing dangerous restriction that can impede the body's ability to get enough air into the lungs.

Depending on the speed in which your body is capable of digesting its contents, an allergic or intolerance reaction could take place anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 days after eating the dairy product.

Whether you have a full-blown allergy to cow's milk or just an annoying intolerance for the food (which makes you feel quite ill, but is not life threatening), precautions need to be taken to avoid sudden adverse reactions to things you eat on a daily basis.

There are two special areas in which dairy responses crop up quite often, even though most people would not expect them to; these areas involve soy foods and meats.

To boost the protein content of many soy products, casein ( a dairy derivative) is often added. This can cause a hidden danger to those who are allergic to dairy products. Meat too, can be a culprit. Lactose - one of the key sugars that is found in cow's milk - is often included in processed meats. Some items to watch out for include: hot dogs, Vienna sausages, luncheon meats, chicken sausages and pates.

To determine if you are allergic or intolerant to dairy try this simple test: For two weeks eliminate the following from your daily diet:

-Lactose-containing foods.
-Casein containing foods.
-All pure dairy products (including cow's milk, cow's milk yogurt, cow's milk cheese, and cow's milk ice cream).
-Processed foods containing milk solids, casein, sodium caseinate, caseinate, or lactose.

After the two-week period, begin to slowly reintroduce these foods one at a time watching for any adverse reactions. If you do indeed show any signs of intolerance or allergy, see your doctor for a detailed treatment and prevention plan.

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