About cow's milk allergy and lactose intolerance
Cow's milk allergy is an immunological reaction to the proteins found in milk. It is one of the most common allergies in infants and young children, but it can also occur in adults. Symptoms can vary, but common signs include skin rash, upset stomach, and difficulty breathing. People with a cow's milk allergy need to avoid all milk products to prevent an allergic reaction.
Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is due to a lack of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down the milk sugar lactose in the digestive system. People with lactose intolerance may experience stomach discomfort such as gas, diarrhea and abdominal pain after consuming milk products. Lactose intolerance is more common in adults than in children and may be genetic. It is not an allergic reaction and there is no cure, but symptoms can be alleviated by limiting or completely avoiding dairy products or by using lactase enzyme supplements.
Cow's milk allergy and lactose intolerance - common in Sweden
In Sweden, cow's milk allergy and lactose intolerance are relatively common. About 0.5 to 1 percent of children (depending on age) and 0.1 to 0.2 percent of the adult population are allergic to milk proteins. And about 4-10% of the Swedish population has some degree of lactose intolerance.
To test whether you are allergic to cow's milk, you can give a blood test that measures IgE antibodies against cow's milk protein. Lactose intolerance is most commonly tested by excluding lactose from the diet and evaluating whether symptoms and complaints are reduced. It is also possible to test whether you have lactose intolerance by giving a blood test that gives an answer as to whether you can break down lactose.
In summary, it is important to distinguish between cow's milk allergy and lactose intolerance, as they are two different conditions with different causes and treatments.