Milk allergy in adults: What are the signs?

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Milk allergy can affect the digestive tract, skin and respiratory system. It is important to note that milk includes proteins, water, fats, minerals and carbohydrates. Individuals who are highly sensitive to milk might end up with a reaction to the proteins. In cow’s milk, it is whey which is found in the liquid component and casein in the curd or solid component.

Even though milk allergy is common among infants and children, adults can also end up with an allergy in their 30-40s.

Close look on the symptoms of milk allergy

Skin issues

Abdominal cramping and bloating can also occur. In addition, nausea and vomiting might be present as well.

A reaction triggered by milk allergy usually manifest within minutes of ingesting any product that contains milk. Oftentimes, a rash develops on the skin bordering the mouth initially and later spreads all over the body. The rash might appear as reddened and bumpy like hives or simply as patches of red, dry skin like eczema.

In some cases, an individual might have allergic shiners. This is characterized as the appearance of black circles around the eyes that look the same as a black eye.

Digestive issues

Among those with milk allergy, the body perceives the milk proteins as foreign invaders. As a response, the white blood cells start an attack and release antibodies. The body releases chemicals, specifically histamine which triggers the allergy symptoms.

Abdominal cramping and bloating can also occur. In addition, nausea and vomiting might be present as well.

Respiratory issues

Once the immune system responds to the ingestion of the milk proteins, inflammation arises in the sinuses. The inflammation triggers the excess production of mucus resulting to runny or stuffed nose. The increase in the production of mucus can also lead to watery eyes.

The inflammation in the bronchi and trachea can disrupt with the air flow and lead to difficulty breathing. The other symptoms that might arise include coughing, wheezing and asthma.


Anaphylaxis is a severe and dangerous reaction. Even though infrequent, it can occur among those with milk allergy. The large amount of chemicals released by the body as a response to the allergen can lead to shock which causes symptoms such as abrupt drop in the blood pressure, rapid weak pulse, airway constriction, nausea and vomiting.

Since milk is present in various foods, it might be difficult to determine if one contains milk proteins. If an individual is diagnosed with milk allergy, an epinephrine auto-injector might be recommended.

Once a shot is administered, seek immediate medical care even if the symptoms seem to settle.

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