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What Makes the Milk Allergy Dangerous?
Although milk allergy affects both children and adults in the same measure, it is very common in children and in infants in particular. Causes of milk allergy in infants are heredity and introduction of cow’s milk in their diet when their body systems have not properly developed to handle the kind of proteins available in cow’s milk or any other type of milk apart from breast milk. As they grow, most children overcome the problem and comfortably drink milk and consume milk products.
Dangers of milk allergy
The fact that milk allergy causes varied symptoms in both children and adults is a danger. It is so because the same symptoms that adults experience are the same ones that children and infants experience. Symptoms experienced can generally be classified into three groups: respiratory, gastrointestinal and dermatological symptoms. Respiratory symptoms include shortness of breath, sore throat and blocked/runny nose amongst others. Gastrointestinal symptoms include stomach disturbances. Dermatological symptoms occur on the skin and include skin rashes, hives and eczema.
While avoidance of causative allergens (milk proteins) is usually the first step toward minimizing the symptoms and preventing further allergy attacks, various medications are available for treating the resultant symptoms. Such include oral and topical medications. Although organic treatments are also available, such are usually unsuitable for use in children and infants.
This is perhaps the most serious danger that milk allergy poses. Anaphylaxis refers to an allergic reaction that is instant and leads to death if proper treatment is not sought immediately. Anaphylaxis presents varied symptoms that affect different parts of the body. These include itchiness, swelling of the lips, skin rashes, hives and eczema on the skin. Its symptoms extend to the respiratory tract where shortness of breath and bronchial muscle spasms may occur. In serious cases, anaphylaxis causes spasms in the body’s coronary artery system, which can easily cause cardiac arrest and reduced blood pressure. It also presents gastrointestinal symptoms which include diarrhea, abdominal pain, stomach cramps and vomiting amongst other symptoms. Apart from milk allergy, anaphylaxis can also be caused as an allergic reaction to certain medications, insect bites and other foods that cause allergy.
Occurrence of anaphylaxis results from the action of the body’s immunoglobulin E, which binds to the milk protein (the antigen) it considers a harmful intruder. The binding around the antigen activates receptors within the body cells, which leads to the release of histamine (inflammatory mediators). Histamine increases contraction of smooth bronchial muscles, a process that triggers vasolidation. This in effect causes leakage of fluids from blood vessels, causing heart muscles to get depressed. Prevention Because of the danger presented by anaphylaxis and milk allergy, it is very important for those diagnosed as being allergic to milk to keep away from milk and milk products at all costs. New mothers in particular need to take great care with the type of milk they feed their infants on. Ideally, infants should be breast fed without the addition of any other type of milk for the first six months. Introduction of other types of milk such as cow’s milk should be done with care. It should be gradual up to a point where a child can comfortable drink the same without showing any adverse reaction(s).
Bjarne Finns is a father of a child that has milk allergy and is willing to share the information he knows, especially regarding the symptoms of this condition (called symptomer på mælkeallergi in Denmark). He hopes that this information will be useful to any parents.