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Dairy Alternatives: Health Tips & Substitutes for Dairy Allergy Sufferers

Team AckoJun 21, 2023

Dairy allergy is an immunological reaction to one or more of the proteins found in cow's milk. Approximately 2 to 3 percent of the global population and up to 6 percent of infants and young children are affected by this condition. Dairy allergy is one of the most common food allergies and can cause numerous symptoms ranging from mild to serious which differ in severity for each person. People with dairy allergies can have varying reactions, some people may only experience mild stomach discomfort, while others may have a more severe anaphylactic reaction. Although this allergy is common, it is important to understand the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options to live safely and comfortably with a dairy allergy.




Symptoms of Dairy Allergy

Most individuals experience symptoms of a dairy allergy within minutes up to two hours after eating a dairy product. Common symptoms include:

  • Hives or rash

  • Itching and tingling of the mouth and throat

  • Redness or swelling of the tongue, lips or face

  • Sneezing and coughing

  • Runny or congested nose

  • Shortness of breath and wheezing

  • Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

  • Anaphylaxis (a severe whole-body reaction)

Symptoms that are less common, but can still occur due to a dairy allergy are eczema, asthma, hay fever, and congestion. If any of these symptoms occur, it is important to get to a doctor as soon as possible.

Diagnosis of Dairy Allergy

In order to determine if a person has a dairy allergy, it is important to visit a primary care provider or an allergist who can provide a skin prick test, a blood test, or a food challenge.

The skin prick test is when a small amount of the allergen is placed on the skin and a needle is used to prick it. If the person has an allergy, a reaction will generally appear after 20 minutes.

The blood test measures the IgE antibody levels in the blood. If the levels of this antibody are higher than normal, it is an indication that the person has an allergy.

The food challenge is the most accurate way to diagnose a dairy allergy. The doctor will ask the person to drink or eat a small amount of the suspected allergen and then watch for any signs of an allergic reaction. If a reaction occurs, the doctor can confirm the allergy.

Treatment of Dairy Allergy

Once a person has been diagnosed with a dairy allergy, the best course of action is to avoid all dairy products. If a reaction occurs, the person should use an epinephrine auto-injector if they have one, or call 911 if they do not.

It is also important to read food labels carefully in order to avoid foods which contain dairy. If a person is uncertain whether a food contains dairy, the best course of action is to contact the manufacturer for clarification. Additionally, it is important for people with a dairy allergy to notify any places where food is served about their allergy in order to avoid accidental exposure.


Dairy allergy is a common food allergy that can cause numerous symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to serious anaphylaxis. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to speak to a doctor in order to receive a diagnosis. Once diagnosed, the best course of action is to avoid all dairy products and to be alert to hidden sources in other food. With proper understanding and management, individuals with a dairy allergy can lead safe, comfortable lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the frequently asked questions and their answers related to dairy allergy.


Is there a cure for dairy allergy?

At this time, there is no cure for dairy allergy. The only way to manage the allergy is by avoiding all dairy products.

What foods to avoid with dairy allergy?

The most common foods to avoid with dairy allergy are cow's milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and cream, but there are many other foods and products containing dairy which should be avoided. It is important to read labels carefully in order to identify any hidden dairy ingredients in food.

How long does a dairy allergy reaction last?

The severity and length of an allergic reaction depends on the individual, but most reactions last for a few hours. If a reaction is severe, such as anaphylaxis, it may last for several hours. In this case, it is important to seek medical attention right away.


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