Before we discuss the symptoms and the causes of casein allergy, we must first understand just what casein is. Casein is a derivative of the Latin word for cheese, ‘caseus.’ It has a wide range of uses from that of being found in matches where it is used as a binder, to additives in our food, and being a large factor within the composites of cheese. It forms the greatest percentage of the total proteins found in cow milk, (80%) and within human production of milk it comprises anywhere between 60 to 65 percent of total proteins produced. Broken down further, casein provides crucial elements to the body such as carbohydrates, amino acids, phosphorus and calcium.
In the early stages of infancy, approximately two to three percent of infants have this allergy but about eighty –five to ninety percent of these children manage to grow out of the affliction, generally by the age of three. World-wide, it is recognized that only about 0.5% of adults suffer from casein allergies so while the allergy isn’t wide spread, it can have some rather adverse symptoms and outcomes for those that do have it.
For those that have the allergy, it happens when the body’s immune system considers the presence of casein proteins as an attack and forms a defence against it in an effort to not only destroy the protein but to flush the body of it as well. The symptoms of this battle appear as anything from stomach bloating, dizziness, difficulties in breathing, abdominal cramps, hives, skin rashes, and in the extreme, instances of mortality have been noted. In the process of staving off this perceived threat, the tissue in vital organs many be subsequently destroyed or affected and the patient will endure high levels of unanticipated weight loss.
The results of a casein allergy range from osteoporosis, brittle bones as a result of the deficiency in calcium, to even impairments of muscle and nerve tissue. It follows thus that anyone who has been diagnosed with this allergy be keenly aware of what they intake. Food markets have labels in their food products that list the ingredients and these should be carefully scrutinized by the casein allergy patient, but it should also be noted that there are dairy products on the market that are devoid of casein as well. Owing to the potential for brittle bones, muscle and nerve inhibition and even osteoporosis as a result of poor calcium intake, alternatives to dairy products can form an adequate substitute if the patient is going to maintain the recommended consumption of 1500 mg of calcium daily. These are foods such as eggs, fish, calcium supplements, nuts, shellfish, and dairy that contains hydrolysed casein. For a more comprehensive listing of foods to avoid as well as alternatives to casein related products, the patient would be wise to consult with their physician and/or immunologist/allergist who as well will assist in the successful management and regulation of dietary alternatives.
Although the global numbers for those affected by casein allergy are small, up to 70% of those who have this allergy obtained it genetically through their parents. If you suspect that you may have the allergy owing to symptoms or in consideration of your family history, a careful evaluation through the services of your doctor or a recommended allergist/immunologist would be extremely beneficial to knowing if you have it, and what to do should it be so.
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