Casein allergy can occur in both children as well as adults, producing symptoms which are mild in some cases and life-threatening in others. Read on to know more about the symptoms as well as the treatment methods.
Casein is a primary protein found in milk and dairy products. It is also present in bread, instant soups, margarine, processed cereals, sweets, salad dressings, and cake mixes, in very small quantities. Casein allergy occurs when the body’s immune system perceives it as a “foreign substance” or a “threat”, thus producing symptoms which affect the skin, respiratory system as well as the digestive system in the body. It is very commonly observed in infants, when they are introduced to milk formulas. In adults, it can occur anytime. Below are the symptoms of casein allergy, followed by its treatment.
- As soon as a person suffers a reaction due to this allergy, symptoms such as itchiness, rash, hives and eczema appear on the skin within a few minutes.
- There is swelling of the face, tongue, and lips. Along with it, a redness might be experienced on the throat, chest and face.
- Digestive system may get affected and there might be cramping in the abdomen, vomiting as well as bouts of diarrhea.
- It affects the respiratory system as well, with people affected by this allergy experiencing difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath and a wheezing sound upon breathing.
- In some people the symptoms might become severe, resulting in the person experiencing a choking throat, losing consciousness and decreasing blood pressure.
- In infants, casein allergy produces symptoms such as a running rose, severe pain in the abdomen and ear infections.
The conventional treatment for any kind of food allergy is avoiding the allergen, in this case casein. So the person suffering from casein allergy, should start an elimination diet. Side by side, he should maintain a diary of the foods consumed by him. Consulting an allergist to understand what constitutes a casein free diet is important to learn what foods to eat, what foods to avoid and also to learn which packaged products in the market are casein free.
The medical treatment for severe casein allergies involves giving epinephrine, which helps in relaxing the bronchial passages, thus improving the passage of air through the lungs. Antihistamines such as Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are recommended by doctors too, along with corticosteroid, which aids in reducing the swelling and itching caused due to the allergic reaction and thus, provides allergy relief.
People with a casein allergy may suffer from calcium deficiency as their intake of calcium is considerably reduced, resulting in weak bones or osteoporosis or muscle and nerve impairments. So, it is very important for such individuals to consume calcium rich foods such as fish, shellfish, eggs and nuts in their diet so that the daily calcium requirement of the body, which is 1500 mg for adults, is met.
Research shows that even after casein has been eliminated from the diet, its traces remain for about eight months in the body. Thus, a casein free diet has to be continued for a number of months to see improvement in the health condition. Also, it would do a lot of good if a person suffering from this allergy, eats freshly prepared food instead of processed food. Besides, changes in one’s diet, avoiding personal care products or paints or any other products that may trigger the allergy should be undertaken. Children usually outgrow this allergy by the time they are seven. As for adults, taking precautions and medical treatments mentioned above is the key to avoid and cure casein allergy.