What is Milk Intolerance?

The Difference between Milk Allergy and Intolerance

Milk allergy means your body views milk as an outside substance that needs to be combated, rather than a food to be digested. Instead of absorbing nutrients, your body will engage the immune system. As a result, your child could experience rashes, itchiness, difficulty of breathing or other respiratory issues.

Milk intolerance (aka lactose intolerance) is different, in that the immune system doesn't get engaged. Instead, the body just can't digest the milk due to lack of the proper enzymes. Symptoms of milk intolerance include excess gas, constipation or diarrhea, stomach pains and other stomach problems.

How to Know If Your Child Is Suffering from Milk Intolerance

The easiest way to diagnose milk intolerance is to cut out all milk and dairy products for three to four weeks. If you've noticed signs of milk intolerance for an extended period of time, try just not giving your child milk for three to four weeks to see if symptoms disappear.

Note: If your child is breast feeding, this advice does not apply. Instead, talk to your doctor about possible replacements for breast milk and other possible remedies.

If symptoms disappear after three to four weeks, then chances are your child is milk intolerant.

Apart from this simple "at home" diagnosis, there are a few more methods of diagnosing milk intolerance. These methods should be administered with the aid of a qualified medical professional.

* Hydrogen Breath Test: This test takes approximately 2.5 hours. After not eating for a period of time, your child is given a small dose of lactose to drink. Doctors can then determine if your child is intolerant by testing for hydrogen.

* Blood Test: By measuring the amount of glucose in the blood after drinking lactose, doctors can determine if the lactose is being properly digested.

* Stool Acidity Test: If your child's stool is acidic after they've ingested lactose, then your child is intolerant to lactose.

These are three of the most common medical methods of determining milk intolerance.

Although milk intolerance isn't a life-threatening disease, it's still wise to diagnose it and change diet plans accordingly. Doing so can really help relieve a lot of physical discomfort for your child and could improve his or her long-term health.