Discovering it was a Milk Allergy, After 17 Years of Symptoms

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Kim ~ I am not really sure where to start, but I would love to share my story with other people. Since I was 15, I suffered from severe migraines. After years of added symptoms which included dizziness, fatigue, swelling, heart palpitations, insomnia, sweating…. the list goes on and on….I decided enough was enough. Medical treatment's and tests always came back perfectly normal, sometimes too normal. On paper I was in perfect health! MRI's and ultrasounds all came back with normal results …

One day, after eating a meal containing cheese, I was sitting at my desk clearing my throat constantly…which I had done since I was 15. I decided to look up information on the internet about people with the same problem. Funny, but after my research, it caused me to basically diagnose myself. After stopping my intake of all dairy, I found within 3 days, not kidding, that all..I repeat all of my symptoms disappeared. This was too good to be true!

I immediately decided to make an appointment with an allergist, just to see if I was right. After an allergy test was performed, I was notified I had an allergy to milk. Ta da! The weight was completely lifted off of me and now I currently have absolutely none of the symptoms I had carried with me for the past 17 years. I am now living a healthy and extra happy life without any medical problems whatsoever. It is truly amazing!

After conversations with my husband and family, I just feel the need to share my story with people in hopes that I may be able to help one person, two people, who knows…. So many people out there are suffering daily and doing everything they can to feel better, yet little know about the effects of milk,dairy…and what general food allergies can do to your body. I am blessed to have found my answer, but had I known or had my doctor's ever suggested a milk allergy, I could have been free from all of the medical burdens years ago. At least know I have the knowledge of what allergies can do to our bodies and I hope to pass this along so other people are aware as well. Thank you so much for allowing me to share my story.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

48 Comments

  1. Your story has helped a lot coz I was having same problem & my doctor never could identify the fact the i have milk allergy.

    I’m 32 years old and I had been having throat infection twice in a month for last 15 yrs. & my doctor had been putting me on antibiotics everytime. I also consulted many other doctors but no benefit.

    And as soon as I stopped milk & dairy products intake; my throat infection problem disappeared magically…..

    One more thing I realised that my sleep quality had also improved greatly. And that I realised only after experiencing that good quality sleep which i never had in my life.

    One more thing I would like to share here that I’ve been diognosed with hypothyroid 15 yrs ago.
    I also have read some articles on internet regarding connection between milk allergy & hypothyroidism; in which they say that hypothyroid can occur due to milk allergy too.

  2. I too have experienced a lot of what people are talking about. I’m 29 and had problems from about my mid teens up until just over a year ago. The chronic insomnia and exhaustion got so bad I suffered a collapsed lung on two separate occasions and went on sleeping pills for three months whilst seeing a sleep therapist (both a complete waste of time and money), not to mentions cameras inserted everywhere and visits to just about every doctor in existence! Only when I cut out dairy and gluten did my symptoms subside dramatically within about 5 days. I might well have ended my life over this and what for? Because of something that baby cows are supposed to drink, utterly ridiculous. It really held me back for so many years, all the way through college and university. However, now I sleep and eat better than anybody I know. On the odd occasion that I have dairy (maybe once every three/four months?), sleep is severely disrupted. Stay away from the white stuff!

  3. I’m a 47 year old woman and since May I have been experiencing nausea (but I don’t vomit), a feeling of being bloated and full when I only eat a little bit, diarrhea, insomnia (going to sleep right away but waking up in the middle of the night, usually for a #2), and even heart palpitations, anxiety and some joint pain. I’ve always been a healthy person. This all started soon after returning from a trip to China so I thought I picked up a bug, but tests have come back negative. I’ve worn a Holter monitor for 24 hours and my heart tested as normal. I had an endoscopy that did diagnose chronic duodenitis, but biopsies and blood tests came back negative for Celiac Disease and negative for h. pylori, and I don’t take NSAIDs very often so the cause of the duodenitis is unknown. A few weeks ago on a whim I cut back on dairy, and felt pretty good for about three weeks, but I also thought maybe I was healing from a low-acid diet I’ve been trying to heal the duodenitis. Yesterday I had cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese and soon after didn’t feel well, which has continued somewhat into today. I now think maybe I am lactose intolerant. Looking back, I’ve always been a big milk drinker and I’ve had lifelong weird symptoms such as a chronic cough. My throat always felt mucous-y and it made me cough one or twice to clear it. I’ve had more bloating and gas the past few years. I had no idea that heart palpitations and feelings of anxiety could be related to a milk allergy. I’ve been praying for relief, I’m hoping that finding this forum will lead me to the answers. The doctors haven’t been much help so I’ll be searching for a naturopathic doctor for the first time.

    • Hi Traci, I’m so sorry for all that you’ve been going through. There are types of medically recognized food allergies (milk being a top offender) that occur through the digestive system and yet can have systemic symptoms. A well known one is called eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). Many researchers speculate that there are other types of non-IgE allergies that have yet to be discovered, too. Conditions like EoE are very hard to firmly diagnose. They can do biopsies, but a reaction needs to be occurring when they biopsy (and in the location of the biopsy) to ensure results. Many GI doctors will diagnose conditions such as EoE based on symptoms, and will recommend allergy testing (often via elimination diet). Please note that this is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical or dietary advice.

  4. Jacob Hinsvark on

    Thanks for posting this, this has inspired me to get tested for lactose intolerance. I’ve been having all these problems, and I notice they are like 10 times worse when I eat pizza or something else cheesy before bed, or ice cream or chocolate or basically anything with dairy. I’m going to cut out lactose from my diet and see if it helps and go see an allergist to get tested for that among other food allergies.

  5. Like someone else said above, I could have written this post. Lifetime milk drinker. Looking back I think some symptoms appeared in my teens, but I definitely started getting bad symptoms at 28. I believe the stress of the birth of my first daughter triggered it (wife and I were up for 60+ hours straight, 29 hours of labor and then emergency C-section). Had every test under the sun and every time “you are a healthy 28 y/o” … “you are a healthy 35 y/o” … “you are a healthy 40 y/o”. Stumbled on vitamin D last year which greatly helped with the shortness of breath but not entirely. Symptoms mysteriously got worse on the weekends – I was drinking more milk. Finally a few weeks ago (age 44) I realized I was feeling oddly better and looked back on what was different the day before. My schedule was off and I hadn’t been home so I didn’t drink any milk. So I didn’t that day, or the next, or the next. Almost 3 weeks now and I 97% feel like a different person. Phlem is almost gone especially on my vocal cords, no pounding heartbeat, no skipping heatbeats, no feeling like my chest cavity is full of fluid making it difficult to breath (asthma inhaler did nothing to help that but they always insisted it was asthma). I would be severely out of breath for 10 minutes after 1 flight of stairs, now I don’t even have to open my mouth. I’ve had cheese, ice cream, dairy-based soups, all w/o any symptoms so I think my trigger is just liquid milk. 16 years and I can’t believe all along it was the white stuff I drank every day!

  6. My Goodness, I can’t believe what my eyes are reading in this thread! I feel I should post my story to show there is hope. A little background, I’m a two time Combat Veteran of the Iraq war, and while I was deployed I contracted the H Pylori bacteria in 2009, and my life, until this point has been a near standstill. I began to experience terrible reflux, acid indigestion, bloating, diarrhea, Ulcers, belching, rapid heart rate (I had nearly 150 ER visits thinking it was a cardiac issue) and even went so far as to have a heart cath performed. They all came back as normal and healthy as you could expect a mid 30’s male could be. Then in Late December of 2015 I began to experience these issues with more ferocity than ever before. I was convinced I had an undetected cancer and was near the verge of death. I finally went to the VA and was given an secondary treatment for the H pylori infection. They performed CT scans, X rays, blood work, but could find nothing. For the shake of honesty, I even began to let my mind drift into the terrible realm of contemplating suicide. I was that sick. Then during the course of my antibiotic treatment I became severely dehydrated and was hospitalized with a resting Heartrate of 165, very low potassium and calcium levels. My body was beginning to decay. Then, my last resort (which should have been my first) I prayed and asked to be healed. The very next article I found on the Internet when I grouped my system was Lactose Intolerency. I cut dairy out and THE FIRST day I did that I didn’t experience the symptoms as strong. Now I’m just on day two, but I feel such a huge improvement that I had to share my story, in the hopes that in may help someone else. I’m Now excited about my life again. I hope this helps someone else, as I have seen a vast improvement in under 48 hours.
    Thank you for you help

    John

    • Go you, John! Dairy’s the ONLY link in my life to constant headaches (missing sleepovers, parties as a kid)…canceling my birthday with a new boyfriend…(he took care of me all day, thank God) and lots of pain. So glad you figured your symptoms out. Blessings

  7. Omg, thanks for sharing. I have been suffering for years from congestion, sneezing, heart palpitations, acne sweating etc and I recently found out it was the dairy. I have been dairy free for 1 month now and I can say its the most amazing change. I am now free of all the symptoms and have much more energy than my old tired self. Yeah I sometimes miss drinking milk but I am better off now.

  8. Sharon Edwards on

    Hi, I have been on an extremely long road, when I look back my symptoms first started when I was 16/17 years old. I had recently moved in with my boyfriend and started consuming lots of tea with sugar and milk. I didn’t notice straight away but shortly after I started belching and I mean belching it was bad. I went to see my doctor she said it was nothing to worry about. So I went about my business for the next 22 years belching away. When I turned 38 I started getting really bad bloating had always had bloating but now was worse. stomach cramps and diarrhea. I also suffered with palpatations. Again I went to the doctors who said I probably had ibs. And stress related anxiety. Was given antidepressants. I didn’t feel depressed though. Well I did because I felt constantly unwell, I was starting to feel really tired al the time. I then started with tinnitus in both ears so again went to doctors, was told it was stress induced. I have in the past 12 months noticed that all my symptoms are triggered after consuming dairy usually with 20 mins. I have never done the 30 day dairy free as I miss it so much but think I will now have to be determined as tonight I have bloating, belching, palpatations, stomach cramps, diarrhea, tinnitus, and tingling around my lips and joint pain can life get any worse.. 🙁

  9. Muhammad Saifullah on

    Hello ,

    I have been diagnosed with high cholesterol two months ago due to excessive smoking. I left it right away the very moment, changed my diet. But due to deep depression, i cut all the dairy, meats in my diet with very less calories a day for about one month. I am 26, male and after a poor diet, i started feeling some fitness issues. I felt pain in the left arm, heart palpitations and extreme depression , i too get chest pains and excessive bloating. ECG done for multiple times, but it all came out normal.
    Fifteen days back, i analyzed my issues, started working on good diet, added chicken and now dairy. There were times, when even walking for one minute could have caused my heart to beat like 90-100.It really scared me as i do get little stinging mostly pointed pains in left arm. Then i realized that i have deficiency of B-12. Currently i am gaining my health back, but i do feel some discomfort in left side of heart if i do extra exercise. With all the things above, is it possible that i have done some damage to my heart in any way although ECG came out normal still. Thanks!

    • Hi Muhammad, I’m so sorry to hear about all of your health troubles! It’s good to hear that you are finding your way back to health. I couldn’t answer you on the heart issue, but your physician should be able to address this.

  10. I am writing this comment out of an array of feelings (frustration, ambiguity, despair), and I’d love some feedback. I have been to 4 different specialists, all of them saying my symptoms are due to something different (for example, stress, milk allergy, stomach ulcer, etc.). I find myself really hopeless. I am so tired of the symptoms, and I am so tired of trying something new to fix them. I am also really tired of going to countless doctors and getting no definitive, objective answer. I’d just like to know what the problem is. I’d like to share my story on here and see if anyone can help me.

    For the last few years, I have had consistent GERD problems. I have also had occasional eczema. Sometimes my burping gets so bad that I can’t leave the house. It all started 5 years ago when my wife and I were living in China. I drank some milk one evening and immediately began burping. My mouth swelled. My teeth hurt. I belched 1k-2k throughout the night. Since that event, I can’t have milk without similar symptoms. I assumed I was lactose intolerant and would only drink milk infrequently. I continued to eat other things with dairy (butter, cheese, etc.). The symptoms were manageable.

    Unfortunately, the symptoms have got worse, the main ones are still burping, gas, and stomach pain with occasionally skin itching an eczema. I am sure there any many more symptoms that I simply refuse to acknowledge. What can I say, I am a stubborn, successful man who hates admitting that I might have a problem. One doctor says its stress related. I will admit that I do better when my stress is down. On the other hand, I went to an allergist a couple months ago. He did extensive food allergy testing. All of the testing came back negative, but he said without a doubt I am allergic to cow’s milk since I immediately begin burping within minutes after consuming milk.

    I have tried to go 2-3 weeks without any dairy products, but find it extremely difficult. I end up losing the will power to continue since the doctor’s results are not definitive. I also find it hard because it seems like everything contains butter, especially at this time of the year.

    I know I am being stubborn. I don’t want to accept I have a problem with milk because the drastic change it will require. I want to believe its something else. When my symptoms do start getting better after not having milk for a couple days, I tell myself its just a placebo effect. I also tell myself its just LI and not a milk allergy, which means to me that I can still eat baked goods and pizza (how could anyone give up these things????).

    Anyways, my story seems insignificant to the symptoms others have, at least I feel it is insignificant. Yet, I still fill disappointed, somewhat depressed. I’d just like an answer. It’s hard for me to get out of the denial stage and move to the grieving and accepting stage because I am a man of science–I need objective results.

    • Hi Jacob, nothing is insignificant about what you are going through. Those are real symptoms affecting your quality of life. It sounds like the problem is, you have the solution, from your doctor and your own observations, but you’re mentally blocked. I recommend that you read this post I put together, and really focus on Step 1: 6 Simple Steps to Going Dairy Free for Good. Transition that stubbornness to your benefit (being determined to feel good and do what it takes rather than as a crutch for fear). Also understand that MILLIONS of people eat dairy-free around the world – it may seem daunting, and truthfully can be tricky at first, but once you get into your groove, it really becomes second nature. You also get to discover so many new indulgences that you had no idea you were missing. Trust me. And stop stressing so much! Also, keep in mind that symptoms can mean underlying damage that is happening – damage that may affect your long-term health. Finally, go to my Newbies page to help gain your bearing and confidence. Also, for allergies, the definitive answer most often lies in an elimination diet (such as going dairy-free) – this is actually the gold standard for doctors. All he can definitely test you for is an IgE-mediated allergy. However, there are several types of non-IgE-mediated allergies (also called cell-mediated), which are far more difficult to test for and often inconclusive. Cell-mediated allergies almost always involve gut symptoms, but can also bring other parts of the body into play, like causing eczema. Just a quick note on the science 🙂

    • I too had GERD for over a year and could not figure out why. It usually hit me in the middle of the night so I couldn’t make any connection to a specific food. I did all the “proper” things like not eat late, avoid spicy food and alcohol, etc. Nothing helped. One day, for unrelated reasons, I decided to go on a gluten-free diet. Within 3 days my GERD was gone. I mean GONE! It had plagued me nearly every night but now, a year and a half wheat-free I am also still completely GERD-free! I too had allergy tests and was told I was not allergic to wheat. But what a difference it has made to cut wheat from my diet. So perhaps dairy is not your problem. Try going wheat-free for a few days. They have a lot of good-tasting gluten-free products these days, including pizza! 🙂

  11. I’m glad I stumbled upon this story! For 10 years now, I’ve been having stomach trouble, hives, insomnia, anxiety, heart palps, and other symptoms..I had tests done which just like you, came back normal…the docs keep saying it’s just ibs, or worse, it’s all in your head…what really stuck out to me is when you said ‘clearing my throat’ because that happens to me after I eat all the time! That, and stuffed up sinuses! Within minutes of drinking milk, I get sick, but I was too stubborn to admit that it may be the cause of all of my symptoms! Thank you for this article, I’m going dairy free

  12. I have just this week “diagnosed” myself with allergy to dairy. I thought I was lactose intolerant and for a while the lactose tabs helped. I have had palps off and on for more than 20 years and was able to figure out what caused them such as certain medications, but recently have been having very debilitating episodes. When I read that palps can be a symptom of anaphylaxis, then I related it to allergy. Today was the first day in a week that I have not had palps, headache, upset stomach, excessive sinus drainage, and diarrhea! No dairy for two days! Finally, after months, I think I have found the answer to my problems. Wonder how many are suffering and don’t know why.

    • I’m so happy to hear that you are finding relief Carol! I know, if only it were even easier to share these successes with others 🙂 I know your comment and story will help though!

  13. I could have written this article! As I got older my symptoms got gradually worse. To the point where my night sweats meant I had to put a towel under the bed sheet. My wife would have a duvet over her and I would have a thin cotton sheet – I was always so hot. I snored loudly. I had all the other symptoms too. I was getting very concerned. I was about 40 when I self- diagnosed, and cut out call dairy. Within 3 days the symptoms disappeared. I stopped snoring. For the first time in 15 years of marriage. For the first week or two my wife kept waking me up a couple of times a night because she thought I had died! Stopping dairy literally changed my life. I told the doctor. I live in France. He looked in his medical dictionary and lactose intolerance isn’t even recognised here! I always carry lactase enzyme tablets and take them whenever I eat out. I still get caught out from time to time but at least I know what is causing the symptoms, which helps enormously.

  14. Thanks for sharing!! I have had trouble with swelling in my face and stomach for years, and I also was having heart troubles. I actually started to make the connection that milk was hurting my bowels. After a night of what felt like giving birth, I stopped milk. Drank soy for a couple of weeks and my face slimmed down and I hadn’t look that pretty in ages. Amazing. But soy is expensive, I ran out, and mixed a cup of milk with the last of my soy. I instantly had bowel trouble and swelling in my face and neck. That’s all I needed. Dairy never again.

  15. Keep in mind you can have an igg response and not allergy, but still have all these symptoms. I have the igg response but not ige. If I eat dairy, my throat is tight, heart flys, skin breaks out, I get very constipated, gas, bloating, joint pain, bloating, and headaches. My body clearly doesn’t like milk!

  16. Same thing happened to me, I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance( apparently no such as milk allergy then) as a baby, they assumed I grew out of it. My entire life I have migraines battled insomnia , chronic allergies, chronic bronchitis, heart palpitations and snoring. Last year I started a diet (to loose weight) cut out everything but white meat/seafood and non-starchy veggies. All disappeared within 1st week. After 7 months on it I added dairy and fats back, bam it all came back(most within 20 mins) . I finally made connection and removed dairy again. Been a week without it and almost back to normal. I am 27, took this long to finally get answers. Dr. thinks I don’t need test since diet proves it, but got blood test anyway. Got 4weeks till confirmation.

  17. I read this post sometime last year searching for answers on how to get rid of my heart palpitations (PVC), which were getting worse and worse: affecting my work and quality of sleep. They had been bothering me from 7 years and heart specialists were clueless. It would take me two hours to fall asleep as my heart kept skipping and I kept trying to find a nice upright position that would ease the symptoms… somewhat.

    After reading this post I got tested for milk allergies, but I came out negative. Even so I was following a GAPS elimination diet and eventually also eliminated dairy and now I’m so much better. Thanks for putting this post up as I’m 95% sure my palps were related to dairy. I’ve tried raw goat milk, raw milk, home-made kefir, hard cheeses, and ghee and they all seem to re-introduce my palps. I think I can tolerate a few teaspoons of ghee and there might be a few cheeses I could do, but I’m afraid to experiment.

    Once I get palps it takes days for them to completely dissipate – up to about a week, which is why I’ve never been able to associate my symptoms with any particular food.

    Hope this helps other poor souls out there and don’t give up on eliminating dairy even if you test negative. There might be an intolerance issue, which triggers a similar result? Who knows.

    • I get heart papitations at least every ten days I find out if I eat frozen pizza I get them the same nite or drink milk or eat string chese wondering if this is my issue please email me. now my doc wants to put a tiny monitor in me to monitor them don’t know about that either please he

    • Wow! Thanks for posting your experiences TK! I can totally relate to your every word. I’ve been experiencing annoying palps for years and had recent suspicions of a food allergiy/sensitivity as the cause. My palps also worsen when laying down…weird. Not sure how this is relative to a food allergy though.
      Are you still able to manage your palps by eliminating your dairy consumption? I will definitely give dairy free a try and see how I feel. I’m willing to eliminate dairy if it means eliminating my palps!

      • Hi Stacey,
        Your story (and TK’s) sounds just like me as well, including palps getting worse for a few minutes when I lay down. I’m curious if going dairy free eliminated your palps? I’ve been doing an elimination diet after my alternative medicine nutritionist said I’m allergic to dairy, gluten and beef. (Insert sad face here…esp for the dairy.) I just added dairy back in last Friday night and began having issues again today. Dang it. 🙁 (The stuffy nose and drainage began the day after adding it back in, but heart palps just resumed in force today. Ugh!)

        Just hoping for a “cure.” Now I’ll be back on dairy free…sigh…

  18. Im curious as to the extent of your insomnia? I have discovered that if I eat daily then I awake at approximately 3am in the morning with stuffy sinuses. Also discovered that for me dairy causes blackheads. My allergy test did not confirm allergy to dairy though. thanks for posting.

  19. Kim~
    Your story is so encouraging! I just found out last week that I am allergic to all dairy (including goat’s milk) and have been quite ill for a long time and am hoping this is my answer!
    hugs~
    Denis :o)

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