Do you think you may be allergic to yogurt? It’s entirely possible. Yogurt is a cultured milk product. And an allergy to milk is one of the more common food allergies. It’s the most common food allergy in babies and young children.
However, even if you can’t tolerate yogurt, you may not have an allergy. There are other conditions with similar symptoms. If you think you may have a problem with yogurt, your doctor can help you determine your next steps.
Read on to learn more about possible causes for an intolerance to yogurt.
An allergic reaction is your body’s response to a specific food protein it sees as a threat. A yogurt allergy is really a milk allergy.
Cow’s milk allergy is most common in young children. It affects 2.5 percent of children younger than 3 years old. Most children eventually outgrow this allergy.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction often occur within two hours of ingestion. These include:
Treatment for mild milk allergy symptoms includes short-acting antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), or longer-acting antihistamines, which include:
- cetirizine hydrochloride (Zyrtec)
- fexofenadine (Allegra)
- loratadine (Claritin)
If you have a milk allergy, you won’t be able to eat yogurt. You’ll also be asked to avoid all milk or products that contain milk, such as cheese and ice cream.
A milk allergy isn’t the same as lactose intolerance. An allergy is an immune reaction to the proteins in milk. If you’re lactose intolerant, your body lacks the ability to break down lactose, a milk sugar, in your small intestine.
Bacteria in your gut ferment the lactose when it’s not broken down. The symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
These symptoms can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours after having dairy.
Lactose intolerance is very common and affects approximately 65 percent of the global population.
If you’re lactose intolerant, you may be able to tolerate yogurt better than milk or cream. That’s because yogurt has less lactose than most dairy products. Everyone responds to dairy differently, so your tolerance may be different than someone else who’s lactose intolerant.
Greek yogurt has less lactose than regular yogurt because more of the whey is removed. Greek yogurt is one of the most easily digestible dairy foods. Just make sure “whey protein concentrate” isn’t on the ingredient list. This is sometimes added to increase protein, but also increases the lactose content.
It’s also possible in some cases that lactose intolerance can be treated by taking lactose enzyme replacement pills. Lactose-free dairy milk may also be available.
Sometimes after eating yogurt, your symptoms can resemble an allergic reaction but blood tests may prove otherwise. It’s possible your watery eyes or nasal congestion could be your body’s response to the histamine in yogurt.
When your body creates histamine, it causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Histamine is also found in many foods, including:
- other fermented foods
Dairy alternatives are common in most grocery stores today. Dairy-free or vegan butter, plant-based milks and yogurts, and vegan cheeses are all options for those with a milk allergy as long as cross-contamination with milk-containing products hasn’t occurred.
If you think you may have a yogurt allergy, see your doctor for a diagnosis. You may have a milk allergy or you may be lactose intolerant. Seek immediate medical care if your symptoms persist, especially if you have any symptoms that resemble anaphylaxis, such as trouble breathing.