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Dairy allergy and dairy intolerance are two different conditions that the body may have in response to consuming dairy products. Both can cause discomfort, but their causes, symptoms and treatments differ.

Dairy allergy

Dairy allergy is a reaction of the immune system to milk proteins, such as casein and whey. In people with allergies, the immune system mistakenly identifies these proteins as harmful, triggering an immune response that can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms: May include hives, gastrointestinal problems, difficulty breathing, edema (swelling), and in severe cases, anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Prevention and Treatment: The only way to prevent an allergic reaction to dairy products is to completely avoid products containing milk and its proteins. For treatment, you may need to carry an antihistamine or an epinephrine auto-injector (for example, an EpiPen) in case of allergic reactions.

Dairy intolerance

Dairy intolerance, also known as lactose intolerance, is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which is necessary to break down lactose, the sugar present in milk, into glucose and galactose, which can be absorbed by the intestine.

Symptoms: Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and tend to occur 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming dairy products.

Prevention and Treatment: People with lactose intolerance can often manage their symptoms by limiting the amount of lactose in their diet, using lactose-free products, or taking lactase supplements before meals that contain lactose. Additionally, some may better tolerate fermented products such as yogurt and mature cheeses, which contain less lactose.

In Everyday Life

1. Read food labels carefully to avoid unwanted ingredients.
2. Explore dairy alternatives, such as plant-based drinks (almond, soy, oat) and vegan cheeses.
3. Plan meals ahead of time to include safe options.
4. Communicate your dietary needs when eating out or attending social events.
5. Educate yourself about the conditions to better manage them and explain your needs to others.

Remember, whether you have an allergy or intolerance, it is important to consult a doctor or allergist for an accurate diagnosis and personalized advice on managing the condition.

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