Milk allergy symptoms can be life threatening, such as anaphylaxis, which is another reason to understand the differences between lactose intolerance symptoms, milk protein intolerance, and milk protein allergy. All three broad categories are different (and there are even more than this, such as rare types of these allergies) although that list covers almost all problem areas.

One confusing problem is that both milk intolerance, as well as the allergy (both of which are really to dairy, not just milk) is that the majority of cases involve the protein casein (alpha S1 caseins). This is the second most well known dairy protein after whey. One useful piece of information regarding milk allergies is that one might be allergic to the casein in cow’s milk but be fine with sheep’s or goat’s milk. I do not recommend testing this fact to see where you stand if you have, or suspect that you have a serious milk allergy.

Even though both casein intolerance, as well as milk allergy symptoms most often stem from the same type of dairy protein, the symptoms are different. Casein intolerance generally causes gastrointestinal distress, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea but can be much more serious than the lactose intolerance symptoms in adults. People may have full blown food poisoning-like symptoms from the slightest trace of casein. To make matters worse, there are three main types of casein intolerance, each having its own onset time. Type II casein intolerance, for example, can result in these difficult symptoms after 6-8 hours, despite feeling fine before. The sufferer may not return to a normal state until absolutely all of the casein is out of their system,

Lactose intolerance is the only one of the mentioned conditions that does not require a life-long dairy-free diet. A lactose intolerance diet will depend upon each individual’s ability to digest lactose sugar, depending upon the amount of lactase enzyme present in their intestine. Symptoms of lactose intolerance are resolved by taking a lactase supplement before eating in many people you require some degree of lactose intolerance treatment. Other people will be fine reducing their dairy intake, or just eliminating liquid milk, for example. A minor slip up may simply result in gas and stomach bloating. Some people will cheat occasionally if they are lactose intolerant, but people should absolutely not if they suffer from a serious milk allergy or casein intolerance.  

Keep in mind that many people, including myself suffer from multiple food intolerances. I am gluten, dairy (lactose and casein) intolerant. Recently, I moved from having a soy sensitivity to soy intolerance. Even if you eliminate the dairy product that you are intolerant to, be careful about assuming it was pointless if you continue to experience symptoms. You may have just discovered the tip of the iceberg (or hopefully the 7/8s that is underwater and you only have a bit more to discover). Avoiding any life-threatening situations is paramount, but improving quality of life is also essential. If you experience digestive troubles that may be linked to dairy consumption, don’t give up, you can feel better!