Lactose intolerance vs. alergy to cow's milk protein

Many laymen, as well as doctors, confuse two different terms – lactose intolerance and allergy to cow's milk protein (abbreviated ACMP). The following article will explain the difference between them, how they manifest themselves and what their therapy is.

Lactose intolerance is a condition in which the body is completely absent or has very little active enzyme, lactase, which breaks down the lactose (milk sugar) that occurs in milk and dairy products. If this enzyme does not work, then lactose accumulates in the intestines, which in turn leads to a bloated abdomen, pain, cramps and also diarrhea. Lactose intolerance affects approximately 20 % of the population and most Afroamericans and Asians. The alleviation of these problems can be solved by disposing of milk and other products that contain a high proportion of lactose. However, there are dairy products that contain less lactose because it has been broken down already during the production process. These are, for example, kefir, sour cream, whipped cream, hard cheese, etc. It is therefore good to find out what does not cause a person's digestive problems, and can thus continue to consume selected dairy products.

If a person is diagnosed with ACMP, then such an individual is dependent on a strictly dairy-free diet. This means that he must completely exclude milk, dairy products and also products in which traces of milk may appear from his diet (pastries, chocolate, instant meals, etc.). Milk from goats, sheep and other animals must also be omitted, as there is also a risk of an allergic reaction. It can manifest itself in many ways – hives, eczema, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, or there may be difficulty breathing. ACMP mainly affects infants, but in most cases their allergies disappear within three years. In an adult, such an allergy is rather rare.

It is best to always consult with your allergologist or gastroenterologist to help you determine the right diagnosis and therapy.

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