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Allergies and intolerances

difference between cowsmilk intolerance and allergy?

6 replies

moljam · 29/08/2007 15:16

gp says ds maybe has intolerance but after reading a few articles i believe he has an allergy to cows milk.he gets diarhoa,ezcema,asthma.when we first visited gp they werent helpful even though hed had runny bum for months(they tested various things such as ecoli)so after hearing goats milk was easier digeasted we tried that which hes fine with.i told gp who said possibly intolerance but no more.last week we were away.ds had lots of icecream(holiday treat!) and ended up with ezcema flaring up,diarhoa).this all started shortly after moving to cows milk at 12 months.what is difference with allergy and intolerance?

OP posts:
lucyellensmum · 29/08/2007 15:31

as i understand it, an allergy is an inappropriate immune response to an allergen, so for hayfever it would be pollen. For someone allergic to milk, it could be any number of things i imagine. An intolerance is more of, well just that really, less acute, an allergic reaction is likely to happen in a short space of time, and i suppose would be more likely to cause something like the tummy upsets you describe. Ezcema and asthma tend to be the results of allergies i think, although im not 100% sure about this. Also, an allergy would be quite easy for the doc to detect with blood test i would have though, not necessarily what he is allergic too but if there were elevated anti-bodies and white blood cells in the blood. Sorry coudlnt be more help, im sure there will be someone along shortly who actually knows what they are talking about. I have heard though that the herm allergy is used too freely, so people who describe themself as allergic to certain foodstuffs are often simply intolerant, which isnt to be dismissive as there is still a problem but it isnt an allergy in the strictest sense of the word.

artichokes · 29/08/2007 15:33

An intolerance comes from not being about to digest lactose, the sugar found in cow's milk. An allergy involves the immune system and is down to a hypersensitivity to the proteins in cow's milk.

This is quite a good site all about cow's milk allergy

Catilla · 29/08/2007 15:35

My ds has severe allergy to milk and eggs. His reaction is anaphylaxis, ie. swelling of the mouth/throat, urticaria (hives). He also had colicky tummy and eczema as an exclusively breastfed baby, which reduced significantly when we discovered the allergy and I went dairy-free.

A friend's ds has tested allergic to egg and he gets the opposite reaction - low blood pressure so he goes very quiet & floppy, but is magically revitalised by antihistamine.

My understanding is that intolerance usually manifests itself with digestive symptoms eg. runny tummy, tummy ache, acid/reflux and also in adults (so I guess kids too) migraines or similar chronic and supposedly unexplained symptoms.

Probably someone else here has more experience than me but in the case of my ds it is potentially fatal for him to take in (or even touch) the substances he is allergic to, whereas if yours suffers nasty symptoms but not life-threatening, it's probably intolerance.

Of course the management may be similar (total avoidance being the main thing) but with intolerance you can afford to try out limited exposure (eg. cooked or raw, goats or cows milk, less or more of it).

BTW what did he have before cows milk? Formula is made from cows milk, and breastmilk also carries through some components of what you eat.

HTH and good luck in resolving it so he can be comfortable.

lucyellensmum · 29/08/2007 15:47

as i said, someone did come along who knew what they were talking about, i am so shite at explaining things

It must be very scary to have a child with severe allergies.

CantSleepWontSleep · 29/08/2007 20:19

Description of the two from the food standards agency.

Artichokes - you can have an allergy or an intolerance to both lactose and milk proteins, so I'm afraid that your first statement is incorrect.

Moljam - it is fairly rare for a child to be ok with goats milk if they have a problem with cows (so much so that goats formula is now illegal in the UK), and this is probably why your GP has said that it is at worst an intolerance.

moljam · 29/08/2007 20:41

wow thankyou-all of you!havent looked at links yet as tired and want to be awake so i take it all in !

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