Casein Allergy: Causes, Symptoms, And Ways To Prevent It



Published on: 22-Apr-2024


10 min read




Lalita Vishwakarma


Casein Allergy: Causes, Symptoms, And Ways To Prevent It

Casein Allergy: Causes, Symptoms, And Ways To Prevent It

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Hello readers! We all know that milk is good for our health, providing nutrients like calcium and proteins that keep bones and muscles healthy. But do you know that even though milk is a natural and nutritious drink, it can cause allergies in some individuals? It is estimated that 2 to 6 percent of children are allergic to casein protein during their first year.  


Casein allergy, or milk allergy, is a relatively common health problem caused by the body's immune response. It results in swelling of the lips, face, and throat. It can also cause various signs and symptoms, including runny nose, coughing, abdominal cramps, watery eyes and difficulty breathing.   


This situation can even become worse if not diagnosed and treated on time. Therefore, this blog will focus on the symptoms, diagnosis and preventive measures for casein allergy. To know more, keep reading! 



Key Highlights  

  • Casein makes up 80% of the protein content in milk and milk products. 

  • Its pure form is amorphous white and tasteless, while its commercial form is yellow. 

  • Casein allergy is most common among children between 3-5 years of age. 

  • Common symptoms of casein allergy are a running nose, watery eyes, swelling of the lips, mouth, and face, and difficulty breathing. 

Table of Contents  

  1. What Is Casein Allergy? 

  1. What Are Casein Allergy Symptoms In Adults? 

  1. Casein Allergy Diagnosis  

  1. Casein Allergy Treatment  

  1. What Foods To Avoid With A Casein Allergy?  

  1. Dietitian’s Recommendation 

  1. The Final Say  

  1. FAQs 

  1. References 


What Is Casein Allergy? 

Casein is a type of protein present in milk and cheese. It is known to digest more slowly than whey protein. It accounts for about 80% of the total protein in milk, while the rest 20% accounts for whey protein. In contrast, mothers' breast milk only contains 40% casein.  

This can make it difficult for our digestive system to properly cope with and process casein. Casein is a significant ingredient in most dairy products and a common cause of milk allergies. Some people may develop an allergic reaction when exposed to casein. This allergy is a type of dairy intolerance known as milk protein intolerance 

Casein allergy results from the immune system perceiving casein as a threat and attempting to eliminate it. This mistaken identification leads to an immune response, often causing symptoms that can persist for up to 72 hours after ingestion in case of casein intolerance 


However, casein allergy symptoms can be immediate and life-threatening. Casein allergy differs from lactose intolerance, which occurs when the body does not produce enough lactase enzyme. Lactose intolerance can cause discomfort after consuming dairy products. 


What Are Casein Allergy Symptoms In Adults? 

How do you know if you are allergic to casein? So, to get the answer, here are some of the common casein intolerance symptoms: 


  • Redness, skin rash, eczema, hives and skin irritation.   

  • Abdominal cramps, colic, bloating, abdominal pain sickness, wheezing   

  • Stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing 

  • Coughing, itching around the mouth,  

  • Swelling of the mouth, face, or throat   

  • Vomiting, flatulence, diarrhoea   

  • Ear infection   

  • Watery and itchy eyes   

  • Difficulty breathing   


Severe cases of casein allergy can lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Casein and other food allergies are known to be one of the most common causes of anaphylaxis. Some symptoms of anaphylaxis include:   


  • Shortness of breath (and wheezing)   

  • Narrowing of the throat   

  • Persistent dizziness or fainting.   

  • Confusion   

  • Weak and fast pulse   

  • Mouth swelling  

  • Chest pain  


Immediate emergency medical attention is crucial if you experience severe allergic reactions such as bloody stool, choking, low blood pressure, or loss of consciousness after consuming foods containing casein.  


Casein Allergy Diagnosis  

If you suspect your child has a casein allergy, contact your doctor immediately. Your medical professional will ask questions about your family's history of food allergies and conduct a physical examination 


Since there is no definitive test for diagnosing a casein allergy, your child's doctor will perform several tests to rule out any other underlying health concerns that may be responsible for the symptoms.  


Some Casein Allergy Tests include: 

  • Stool tests to check for digestive issues 

  • Blood tests to identify any health conditions 

  • A skin prick allergy test in which your child's skin is pricked with a needle containing a small amount of casein to see if a reaction occurs.  

  • Additionally, your child's doctor may ask them to consume milk and monitor them for several hours to detect any allergic reactions. 

Casein Allergy Treatment  

Casein intolerance treatment involves various dietary and lifestyle changes. To prevent a casein allergy, foods that contain casein must be avoided. Even small amounts of casein can trigger a reaction, so it is essential to check food labels carefully. Foods dipped in batter or fried in oil previously used for dairy products should also be avoided 


Epinephrine is a standard treatment for casein allergy, as it helps to calm the bronchial passages and prevent breathing problems. Over-the-counter medications can also relieve itching and swelling caused by the allergy. Those who suffer from a severe casein allergy should take epinephrine with them and inject themselves with adrenaline in case of accidental exposure. If you experience an anaphylactic reaction, seek medical help right away 


In addition to these treatments, you can try other options, such as replacing milk with soy milk and swapping ice cream for snacks made from rice or soybeans. 



What Foods To Avoid With A Casein Allergy?  

What foods are high in casein? Well, there are so many products that contain casein that you should be aware of. Along with milk products, it is also present in non-dairy products such as hot dogs or caramel flavouring. To determine whether a product contains casein, check the nutrition label and look for dairy in the ingredients list. Some products may list casein or caseinate as an ingredient. As mentioned above, it's essential to avoid casein allergies caused by consuming casein-rich foods. Most dairy products contain some amount of casein. These include:          



Dairy Products 

Milk (whole, low-fat, skim, buttermilk, evaporated, condensed, powdered), yoghurt, cheese (all types), butter, ghee, sour cream, ice cream, pudding, cream cheese 

Bakery Products 

Cakes, cookies, pastries, bread (unless labelled casein-free), pie crusts 

Processed Foods 

Processed meats (lunch meats, hot dogs, sausages), breakfast cereals, snack foods (chips, pretzels), instant soups, salad dressings, condiments 


Coffee creamer (unless labelled casein-free), protein shakes (unless labelled casein-free), hot chocolate 


Processed meats (may contain casein as a binder), deli meats (may be exposed to casein during slicing), and some medications (check labels) 


Dietitian’s Recommendation 

As a registered dietitian, I recommend being mindful of casein allergy. If you are experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms, it is best to consult your doctor or a registered dietitian. To prevent it, you can eliminate all milk-based products from your diet and still enjoy the healthy foods you love by making simple substitutions.  

For example, you can choose plant-based milk alternatives, such as almond, soy, or oat milk, and select non-dairy sources of calcium, such as leafy greens, tofu, and fortified cereals. By being mindful of your dietary choices and consulting with a healthcare professional, you can manage your casein allergy and still enjoy a healthy and balanced diet. 


Dt. Lavina Chauhan 



The Final Say  

Milk and dairy products are a great source of essential nutrients that our body needs, such as calcium and protein. However, it's important to recognise that some people may experience side effects after consuming it. One type of food allergy that can occur is casein allergy, which can directly impact your immune system. It's essential to take the necessary measures to manage these allergies so individuals can lead a healthy and happy lifestyle without any limitations. Different treatments are available to alleviate the symptoms caused by these allergies, and it's crucial to be aware of them. 




1. Can you get rid of a casein allergy?  

Avoiding milk and milk proteins is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction, which can be challenging since milk is a common ingredient in many products. 


2. What foods are rich in casein 

Milk and milk products like yoghurt and cheese contain a lot of casein, which comprises 70-80% of milk protein. Non-dairy products that use casein as a whitening or thickening agent may contain casein as andein supplement. 


3. Who should not consume casein products?   

People allergic to milk protein are generally advised not to consume milk or milk products such as cheese, curd, butter, etc. 


4. Is milk allergy the same as lactose intolerance?   

No, both are different. Milk allergy is an immune reaction resulting in swelling, breathing problems, and anaphylaxis. On the other hand, lactose intolerance is the inability to digest or absorb the sugar in milk or its products. 


5. What is an extensively hydrolysed casein formula? 

An extensively hydrolysed casein formula is a type of formula specially treated to break down the proteins in milk, making it easier for babies with milk allergies or intolerances to digest. 


6. What is A1 casein allergy? 

A1 casein allergy refers to an allergic reaction to a protein found in cow's milk. Symptoms of this allergy can include digestive issues, skin rashes, and respiratory problems. 


7. What is A2 milk casein allergy? 

A2 milk casein allergy refers to an allergic reaction to a different type of protein found in cow's milk. Some people allergic to a1 casein may be able to tolerate a2 milk, but this varies from person to person. 


8. What are the symptoms of casein intolerance? 

Symptoms of casein intolerance can include digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, skin rashes, and respiratory problems. 


9. What is the treatment for casein intolerance? 

The treatment for casein intolerance involves avoiding foods and products containing casein. Some people may also benefit from taking digestive enzymes or probiotics to support digestion. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for individualised treatment recommendations. 



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