Cream cheese is a milk product which is included in the list of major food allergens. Some children younger than 3 years old have allergies to milk products. A small percentage of these children stay allergic for life.
Allergens in cream cheese
It is important to note that a 1-ounce serving of cream cheese usually contains 1.68 g of milk proteins. There are two types of milk proteins – whey and casein. The solidified casein proteins comprise 80% of the volume of milk.
The allergic reactions to cream cheese that occurs among adults might be due to casein sensitivity. In a study conducted, it found the highest casein sensitivity among milk-allergic children older than 9 years old.
What happens during an allergic response?
The manufacturing process of cream cheese utilizes the enzyme rennet to separate the whey and casein protein before draining off the whey. An allergic reaction to cream cheese occurs once the immune system wrongly identifies the remaining casein protein as a threat to the body.
Take note that this reaction initiates the release of immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) that specifically target the proteins. This stimulates the production of histamine which triggers the manifestation of the allergy symptoms in just a matter of minutes.
What are the signs and symptoms?
It is important to note that cream cheese and other milk allergies are capable of triggering a variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms. A mild reaction typically includes hives or itchiness. The serious symptoms include labored breathing, oral swelling, nasal congestion, wheezing, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
A severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis is a systemic reaction that starts with severe facial itchiness. If this reaction is not managed right away, it can cause the throat to swell, thus disrupting with normal swallowing and breathing. The digestive symptoms include vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. It is important to note that individuals suffering from anaphylaxis often end up with confusion or blackouts from the abrupt drop in the blood pressure. Take note that this condition requires immediate medical care.
Allergy or intolerance
Even though they have digestive symptoms, cream cheese allergy and intolerance are not the same. When it comes to food intolerance, it does not involve an immune system response. This occurs due to the inability of the body to properly digest the milk sugar lactose. The usual lactose intolerance symptoms include gas, nausea, bloating and diarrhea. Since cream cheese is a high-fat dairy product, it seldom causes serious intolerance.
Management of cream cheese allergy
The best way to effectively prevent an allergic reaction to cream cheese is to eliminate it from the diet. With almost 5 grams of fat, one tablespoon of cream cheese is best eaten sparingly. It is recommended to replace it with a low-fat, tofu-based cream cheese alternatives. Always bear in mind the sacrificing the actual thing might cost some vitamin D and calcium. With this in mind, it is recommended to increase the intake of broccoli and spinach as replacement.