My Allergic Reaction to Dairy

So, it happened. I was dosed with dairy… entirely unintentionally. What does that mean for me? A week of discomfort — at times pain — and general mental ineptitude. However, this is not how every dairy-allergic person reacts to dairy exposure.

People respond differently to their allergens and the body’s reactions can escalate or decrease in severity with any exposure without notice. That’s the scary thing with allergic reactions: they’re unpredictable.

How bizarre is it that a person may one time not even react noticeably to his or her allergen, but another time may experience an allergic reaction far worse than any he or she had previously experienced? It’s troubling.

Each person’s allergic response to a shared allergen can be entirely different. One person may get hives, another may be anaplylactic, someone else may suffer digestive woes. There’s no singular allergy experience.

I realized my dairy allergy when I was six months postpartum with my middle child. I had been feeling “off”… achey and bloated with joint pain and digestive troubles. So I researched possible causes. I read an article and identified all of my symptoms — even ongoing issues I thought were unrelated — with dairy allergy. I decided to eliminate dairy from my diet for one week to see if it helped.

Not-so-secretly I hoped it would fail and I could return to my usual eating habits. Unfortunately, I had no such luck. Fortunately, I felt AMAZING!

My bones and joints no longer hurt, my knees looked entirely different than they had for years because they were no longer swollen, my digestion was normal, my lower belly pouch was gone, my brain fog disappeared, my headaches dissipated, my energy elevated, my mild acne vanished. Dairy was clearly the culprit. It was ingredient non grata.

Now, 3 years sans dairy, I am accustomed to how I feel without my allergen coursing through my system. In turn, my inflammatory response to dairy is unpleasant and unwelcome. When I do get dosed by unexpected dairy these are generally my symptoms:

Stomach bloating  (think first trimester pregnant.)

Stomach discomfort (it feels like there is a rock in my stomach)

Intestinal distress (frequent, intense bowel evacuation.)

Body aches (my bones hurt like I have a high fever)

Joint pain (my knees are hit the hardest followed by my wrists, fingers, and spine.)

Headache  (sometimes it manifests as a migraine with vision troubles, and other times as a nagging headache.)

Brain fog (I have trouble typing properly, my language recall is poor, I become forgetful and spacey, and my attention span is abbreviated. Considering my perpetual case of “mom brain”, these symptoms are truly obnoxious.)

Moodiness (I am quicker to anger and get frustrated easily. I feel sad and anxious.)

Fatigue (no amount of sleep or caffeine lessens it.)

Pimples (my skin is usually clear but, as dairy works its way out of my inflamed system, I get a smattering of blemishes.)

These symptoms last one full week, the brain fog being the last to dissipate. It sucks. However, knowing my usual allergy progression helps. Still,  one can never bank on a specific allergic response; allergies are fickle. And so it is best to remain vigilant in avoiding the allergen entirely.

Fortunately for me, living dairy-free isn’t as hard as I thought. It’s actually quite delicious!

 

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