You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor, a general practitioner or your child's pediatrician. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in allergic disorders (allergist-immunologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and to know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance. For example, if you're going to have allergy testing done, your doctor will want you or your child to stop taking antihistamine medications for a certain time period before the test.
- Write down any symptoms you or your child has experienced, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of any medications, vitamins and supplements that you or your child is taking, if applicable.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For a milk allergy, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do you think this is a milk allergy or lactose intolerance?
- Are there tests to diagnose milk allergy? Do these tests require preparation?
- Is it possible to outgrow this allergy?
- Are there any treatments available?
- Is it necessary to avoid milk and milk products?
- Which foods are most likely to contain milk products?
- Is it necessary to stay away from other children drinking milk?
- What do I need to tell my child's school about this allergy?
- How can milk allergy best be managed with other conditions?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
- Do I need to have an epinephrine pen available at all times?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions that occur to you.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
- When did you or your child first experience a reaction to milk?
- Can you describe the reaction?
- Does this happen every time milk or something made with milk is consumed?
- How soon after consuming milk or milk products do symptoms begin?
- How severe are the symptoms?
- Does anything seem to improve the symptoms, such as allergy medication or milk avoidance?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen the symptoms?
- Have you or your child tried any of the products made for people with lactose intolerance? If yes, did those help?
- Is anyone else in your family allergic to milk?
What you can do in the meantime
If you've eaten something containing milk, and you're experiencing mild allergy symptoms, taking an antihistamine medication may lessen your discomfort. But, be on the lookout for more-severe symptoms that might require medical attention. If you or your child has any symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction, seek emergency medical care immediately.
Aug. 11, 2011
- Atopic and allergic disorders. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec13/ch165/ch165c.html?qt=milk allergy&alt=sh. Accessed June 5, 2011.
- Food allergy: An overview. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/foodallergy/documents/foodallergy.pdf. Accessed June 5, 2011.
- Sicherer SH. Food allergens: Overview of clinical features and crossreactivity. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 2, 2011.
- Tips to remember: Food allergy. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/foodallergy.stm. Accessed June 5, 2011.
- Schneider Chafen JJ, et al. Diagnosing and managing common food allergies: A systematic review. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2010;303:1848.
- Du Toit G, et al. Identifying and managing cow's milk protein allergy. Archives of Disease in Childhood: Education and Practice Edition. 2010:95:134.