You might have heard someone say that they have a cheese allergy, or you yourself might have been told that you have an allergy to cheese. A cheese allergy is one of the most common types of allergies and is often noticeable from an early age. But what causes these allergies to begin with and how can they be controlled?
A cheese allergy is basically caused when the body recognizes the proteins, mold, or chemicals found in cheese as harmful substances and tries to fight against them as a protective measure. Chemical histamines are released by the body in order to defend it, thus causing inflammation of the sinuses, ears, skin, eyes, nasal passages, and lungs.
Some people that suffer from allergies to molds and penicillin also develop allergies to aged cheeses like asiago and gorgonzola. Symptoms can include facial swelling, sinus pressure and congestion, allergic conjunctivitis, asthma, and itching or burning sensations in the mouth, throat, and tongue.
Other people also have sensitivity to tyramine which can be found in asiago, American, Gouda, parmesan, Brie, Romano, Colby, Roquefort, and provolone cheeses. Tyramine is a chemical that can be found in fermented food and can sometimes stimulate histamine responses with people who have chemical sensitivities.
Occasionally, the proteins that are found in cow’s milk cause the allergic reactions to cheese. Two of the main elements found in cow’s milk are whey and casein. Casein is the main allergen found in cheese and occurs when the milk is left to sour and forms curd. Whey also has two allergy proteins including alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactaglobulin.
People who have general dairy allergies or who are lactose intolerant can also have allergies to cheese. With a dairy allergy, a person might have difficulties due to the proteins found in the dairy products which their bodies are unable to process. Some common symptoms of dairy allergies include eczema, rashes, lethargy, cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.
People who are lactose intolerant can have similar symptoms, along with flatulence, bloating, and nausea. Lactose intolerance happens when the body is unable to produce the enzymes that are needed in order to digest the lactose that is found in dairy products. It is often difficult to diagnose lactose intolerance and it is usually diagnosed when other conditions are ruled out. Sometimes, the person is asked to keep a food or reaction log in order to keep track of the foods or products that might have triggered the allergic reaction.
The best way to avoid cheese allergies is to avoid the triggers that cause the allergies in the first place. For people who are lactose intolerant, there are soy products available that might be easier on the digestive system. On the other hand, for those allergic to tyramine and mold, cottage cheese and Ricotta cheese can sometimes be substituted for other cheeses without the adverse effects.
Keeping a log or a journal when it comes to allergic reactions can help a person figure out their individual triggers so that they can know to avoid them. Symptoms of cheese allergies can generally be treated with antihistamines, corticosteroids, and inhalers.
There are natural approaches to treating cheese allergies as well. These include using herbal products such as grape seed extract, stinging nettles, and licorice root. Homeopathic nasal sprays have also been useful to some people. However, a visit to the physician to rule out any other problems is preferred, even when using natural health remedies. This is especially important if other medications are being used, as sometimes even herbal remedies can have adverse effects when used in combination with some medications