Is your child lactose intolerant or allergic to milk?

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The terms may sound similar, but they actually describe two different digestive problems, and one is more severe than the other.

One thing that every parent is becoming more aware of these days in India, is that of allergies. Kids these days tend to develop many types of allergy or intolerance and most of the times we don't even realize that the symptoms must be related to it.

So first we should understand the difference between Lactose Intolerance and Lactose Allergy. The terms may sound similar, but they actually describe two different digestive problems, and one is more severe than the other.

Lactose Intolerance: Lactose intolerance is caused by not having enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

Lactose Allergy: Milk allergy is a true food allergy caused by an allergic reaction to the protein in milk.

Is your child lactose intolerant or allergic to milk?

Causes & Symptoms

A definite reason that results into an allergy or intolerance is not yet known. But few are born with this symptom, few experience it while they grow older, few develop it due to another illness of the abdomen and sometimes due to excessive stress.

Diagnosis can be done by observation first to see if your child has a peculiar reaction after a certain dairy product. Then you can try to omit and see if your child still has symptoms. If this persists, consult your pediatrician or go to an allergy specialist.

So what are the symptoms like? Every individual will have a slightly different reaction in both the cases. Sometimes kids do end up recovering from a lactose intolerance with age. Here we've tried to break it down into two columns so that one can get a better understanding and differentiation.


child allergies


Lactose Intolerance

Lactose Allergy

The symptoms of lactose intolerance typically occur between 30 minutes and two hours after eating or drinking a milk or dairy product

The food allergy reaction to milk can begin within minutes or can be delayed for several hours.

It is caused due to a lack of an enzyme

Its an immune disorder

It has lesser harmful effects and can be taken care with the help of a proper diet.

Its effects can get severe, and sometimes even life-threatening if not taken care of.

The common symptoms include: bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhea

The common symptoms include: sneezing, wheezing, rash, hives, trouble in breathing or tightness in throat


Foods that contain Lactose:

You may only consider milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt etc to contain lactose as they are visibly dairy products. But many of your routine food items contain milk, and it is very important to read the nutritional label to make sure that no types of milk product enter your child's digestive system if they are very sensitive towards it. The list that contains hidden lactose are:

  1. Salad dressings
  2. Ready-to-eat cereals
  3. Few energy drinks
  4. Few canned tuna
  5. Many instant soups
  6. Biscuits and Cookies
  7. Cakes
  8. Few processed meats
  9. Few potato chips, nuts, and flavored tortillas
  10. Few chewing gums


Is your child lactose intolerant or allergic to milk?


Yes, milk is very important for your growing child, but once your child has a confirmed intolerance or allergy, he is bound to get deprived of calcium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients. So it's best to feed the child more of nuts, green leafy vegetables etc.

For milk, you can try soy milk, almond milk or brown rice milk. You can also make them at home. For soft cheese, you can try using coconut, soaked cashews, and almonds.

If your child has a milk allergy, you need to read labels and avoid foods that have any dairy, including the ingredients casein, whey, lactulose, lactalbumin, and ghee.

Also Read: How I raised my lactose intolerant daughter

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