Cows' milk allergy is an allergic reaction to the protein in cows' milk. In short, an allergic reaction to food occurs when the body's immune system responds inappropriately to something in a particular food.
Although Cows’ Milk Allergy (CMA) and lactose intolerance can cause similar symptoms, they are two completely different conditions and affect the body in different ways. It is quite easy to confuse them, but the following information should help to explain the difference.The main difference is that CMA is a food allergy, which means that the immune system overreacts to one or more “proteins” contained in cows’ milk. To avoid a food allergic reaction, it is important to avoid the intake of the protein.Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest the milk sugar which is called lactose. It is a food intolerance which means that the body cannot deal with this nutrient.The immune system is not involved so no allergic reaction takes place. Symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, or diarrhoea can be signs of lactose intolerance. The skin and breathing are not usually affected. However like CMA, the symptoms of lactose intolerance can only be managed by avoiding certain foods. In this instance, any foods containing lactose – which means all sorts of milk and dairy products.Fortunately, lactose-free milk and dairy products are available in most shops and can be a good alternative.
See your child's doctor or dietitian if you are worried or not sure about your child's symptoms.
Filling out this guide will help you prepare to visit your doctor if you suspect your child might have CMA.