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Dairy Intolerance 101: Causes, Symptoms, and Prognosis

Dairy intolerance, also known as dairy insensitivity or lactose intolerance, is the reduced ability of the body to digest milk sugars. In some instances, intolerance arises when the body develops an allergy to a milk protein known as casein.

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Genetic factors also largely influence dairy intolerance. People of North European descent have only a 25% chance of developing the condition, while the rest have a 75% chance. Although a vast majority of the population suffer from this disorder, they may not be aware of it. They often end up confusing the symptoms of dairy intolerance with other medical conditions.

Prevalence of Dairy Intolerance

3/4th of the total population has difficulty digesting lactose to a certain extent. The incidence of dairy intolerance varies from country to country. Nearly 90% of East Asians and 70% of African-Americans suffer from Lactose Intolerance. In Australia, the figures vary from one ethnic group to another. Approximately 84% of Aboriginals are lactose intolerant. This number drops for Australian Caucasians with only 4-17% of them being dairy intolerant. Even babies who are on cow's milk or breast milk aren’t exempt from the condition. They often suffer from casein allergy, the symptoms of which include projectile vomiting, colic, and abdominal pain.

Causes of Dairy Intolerance

Patients who are diagnosed with dairy intolerance usually have low levels of the enzyme lactase in the lining of the small intestine. Because of the absence of the right amount of lactase, lactose remains undigested and is partially broken down by bacteria instead. When this happens, the patient suffers from the symptoms of dairy intolerance.

Patients who develop a casein allergy may suffer from bloating, diarrhoea, wheezing, nasal congestion, ear infections, eczema, and skin irritations. If the allergy is severe, the patient may suffer from a loss of consciousness and blood in the stools.

What are the Symptoms of Dairy Intolerance?

  • Bloating
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhoea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Prognosis and Treatment for People with Dairy Intolerance

Patients suffering from lactose intolerance usually don’t have to avoid all dairy products or foods containing dairy. They can consume small amounts of dairy, particularly hard cheeses like mozzarella, brie or cheddar. Lactose Intolerant patients can also typically consume products like butter, cream, and yoghurt.

Full-fat milk is a better option for those suffering from lactose intolerance because the fat slows down the journey of milk through the intestines and allows the enzyme lactase to break down milk sugars. Patients could also switch to soy milk or soy-based yoghurts that are lactose-free.

Those suffering from casein allergies have no other option but to avoid milk and dairy products. Instead of consuming desserts like ice-cream, they could instead opt for sweets made out of rice or soy. They may have to take prescription medications like epinephrine if they suffer from severe respiratory problems caused by the allergy. Casein allergies can also trigger anaphylaxis. Patients must, therefore, avoid any exposure to the allergen.

Coping with Dairy Intolerance

Life can be quite challenging for those suffering from dairy intolerance, particularly the kind associated with casein allergies. Such patients are encouraged to wear a medical ID that contains relevant information about their allergies, current medications, and emergency contacts. One example is a dairy intolerance wristband which clearly identifies a potential casein allergy.

Should the unexpected arise, first responders and doctors will refer to the band and retrieve valuable information about the patient’s medical history. Write on medical wristbands, like the ones offered by Mediband Plus, come custom manufactured with a unique code. The code allows the patient to use the Mediband database for free (up to one year). The database can be accessed online at any time, and the patient can log-in and make changes to their medical profile whenever necessary.

dairy free, dairy allergy, allergy wristbandThe latest Mediband dairy intolerance wristbands come in fantastic colors and styles. They’re not chunky or old-fashioned, and people can personalise them to suit their preferences. Mediband also sells wallet cards for those who’d like to put their medical IDs in their wallets.

Don’t let Dairy Intolerance dominate your life. Wear the band and let the good times roll.

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