I get a lot of strange looks when others learn of my milk allergy. The usual response is “Oh, you’re lactose intolerant.” No. That is something different.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Symptoms often occur 30 minutes to 2 hours after you consume milk products. The standard symptoms are abdominal bloating, nausea, gas, stomach cramps. Most people who are lactose intolerant can eat cheese, yogurt and ice cream because the lactose presence is minimal after processing.
My ‘allergies’ started about a decade ago, so I took over the counter decongestants and antihistimines for relief. This didn’t help much. I eventually met with an allergist who did the standard tests and found no allergies. The prognosis was “non-allergenic rhinitis”…which means “who the hell knows why her sinuses are so messed up” in layman terms. There was a lot of accompanying body aches too (muscles and joints).
In the spring of 2010 I met with a nutrionist as part of my preventative health plan. He discovered the milk allergy, which is actually a reaction to casein protein. Milk consists of 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein. Casein protein is very dense and takes up to 7 hours to digest, whereas whey protein is easily absorbed by the body. A good example of this is cottage cheese…the watery part is whey and the dense part is casein. The allergic reaction is delayed because of the stomach’s delay in absorption of the dense protein. Inflammation slowly occurs and explains why we never connected the dots to my dairy intake and my body’s subsequent attempt to stop it with high histamine output. This was creating the aches and pains all over, not just my sinuses.
My casein protein allergy doesn’t allow me to eat any dairy. Casein protein is also present in a lot of processed foods as a binding agent and we’ve become vigilant at reading food labels. I tried to eat a small amount of cheese a couple of times, but paid for it with extreme sinus pain, head and body aches later in the day that lasted over 24 hours. It’s just not worth it and not a good idea because the immune system is working overtime adding unnecessary stress.
At least I’m not allergic to chocolate! (P.S. Please don’t give me any milk chocolate for Christmas anymore.)