Intolerant or allergic?

Intolerant or allergic?

We know a lot about delicious lactose-free dairy, we’re no experts on symptoms and we won’t pretend to know even the slightest percentage of what an authorised doctor or dietician knows about this matter. So, make sure to seek advice and consult authorised medical authorities if you feel any discomfort. The only way we can help is to make your information seeking a bit easier. So, we’ve tried to collect some of the most searched for information about allergy and intolerance here to get you a feel of the matter. Be sure to consult medical professionals for more concrete information.

It seems that allergy to cow's milk is sometimes confused with lactose intolerance and vice versa. Although symptoms of lactose intolerance and cow’s milk allergy can be similar, there’s a big difference between the two. Let’s take a closer look!

Lactose intolerance is different from a cow’s milk allergy. With a lactose intolerance you are sensitive to the milk sugars in a product. In a cow’s milk allergy, the body reacts allergically to the proteins in cow’s milk.

As the name suggests, cow’s milk sugar (lactose) is therefore not the same as cow’s milk protein. The first is the sugar (carbohydrate) from cow’s milk and the other is protein from cow’s milk.

People with lactose intolerance can often tolerate small amounts of lactose. But with a cow’s milk allergy, even very small amounts can already cause severe reactions.

If you think you are lactose intolerant or have cow’s milk allergy, don’t ask us about it. Ask your doctor or dietician. They are much smarter on this matter than we are.

Most searched symptoms of lactose intolerance

As far as we know, symptoms of lactose intolerance can vary from time to time and can be mild to severe. A quick google search gets us this list – but we’ve said it before and we’re happy to say it again: We are no medical experts, so please consult your doctor or dietician about any symptoms you might experience. This is merely our intent to collect some of the already available information on the subject. As far as we know from our own searches, if you are lactose intolerant, you may experience symptoms like:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhoea 

Lactose intolerance is not the same as milk allergy and in most cases it's not necessary to remove milk from your diet.

Your doctor can tell you how much milk you can drink, and which dairy products you can eat without getting any symptoms. If you’re lactose intolerant, you can reduce your consumption of milk and dairy products to an amount you can tolerate. And of course, you can feel at ease and choose lactose-free variants of the products. With our yummy lactose-free recipes you can also get a dose of inspiration for delicious dishes. Or take a look at our tips for living without lactose.

Symptoms of milk allergy

If you feel discomfort, you should always consult your doctor or dietician. They know best, and they can help you determine your medical issues. With cow’s milk allergy, the symptoms are different from those of lactose intolerance, and they are usually not limited to the abdomen and intestines.

If you have a milk allergy, you need to go on a milk free diet, because even small amounts of milk protein might cause severe symptoms.

A quick search on some of the symptoms of milk allergy gives us this (uncomplete) list – please know that we are not medical advisors, we are merely trying to gather information for you. The list isn’t at all complete, it simply gives you a few first indications of what might by symptoms of milk allergy. Consult your doctor or dietician for a more in-depth list and if you feel any discomfort.

  • Eczema or itchy rash
  • Swelling of the lips, mouth, and around the eyes
  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Hay fever-like symptoms such as blocked or runny nose

And it seems, from our non-scientific research, that in some cases, severe allergic symptoms can occur. For example:

  • Swelling in the throat or mouth
  • Wheezing
  • Difficult breathing or shortness of breath
  • Anaphylaxis Again, this list isn’t complete either. In case of any severe allergic symptoms, call an ambulance or go immediately to your local hospital.

Lactose intolerant or allergic to milk – can I enjoy Arla LactoFREE products?


Arla LactoFREE is suitable for people with lactose intolerance. The milk sugars have been converted into other sugars using a patented method, so that you can still use the products if you are sensitive to lactose. Find out more about our process of removing lactose.

If you suffer from lactose intolerance, your ability to digest the natural sugar in milk is lower, because your body doesn't produce enough of the enzyme lactase. You might experience discomfort if you ingest more milk than what you have lactase for. Please consult your doctor for more information on this matter.

We have removed the natural sugar in Arla LactoFREE products through a simple 2-step method: first we filtrate and then we add the natural enzyme lactase to break down the remaining sugars. Find out more about our process of removing lactose.

Arla LactoFREE is real dairy, without lactose. It therefore also provides you with all the benefits of milk such as proteins, calcium, and B vitamins. In other words: the simple goodness that makes your day.

Arla LactoFREE products are not suitable for people with a cow’s milk allergy or for people with the rare condition galactosemia.

In short: if you have milk allergy, you can’t stomach milk protein, and if you’re lactose intolerant, you can’t stomach the milk sugar, also known as lactose.


Let’s take a quick Q&A about lactose intolerance vs. milk allergy. And remember to always consult your doctor if you have any doubts.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

Consult your doctor if you experience any discomfort. They can determine which symptoms you might have and why. We can’t, we just love lactose-free dairy, but from a quick non-scientific search, it seems that some of the most common symptoms of lactose intolerance could be bloating, flatulence, and diarrhoea.

What are the symptoms of cow’s milk protein allergy?

Always consult your doctor if you experience any discomfort. A doctor can determine which symptoms you might have and why. We can’t, we just love lactose-free dairy, but from a quick non-scientific search, it seems that symptoms of milk allergy can be constipation, vomiting, and rashes. Some severe symptoms are swelled throat, shortness of breath, and anaphylaxis. These require immediate medical care.

How long does lactose intolerance symptoms last?

Always consult your doctor if you experience any discomfort. A doctor can determine which symptoms you might have and why. We can’t, we just love lactose-free dairy.

Is lactose intolerance an allergy?

Lactose intolerance is sometimes confused with milk allergy, but they’re not the same. Intolerance means that you don’t tolerate certain amounts of milk sugar, but a reduced intake might be enough to avoid any symptoms. Milk allergy, on the other hand, means that you should remove all milk protein from your diet, as even small amounts can cause severe symptoms.

What is the difference between an allergy and intolerance?

The main difference is seen in how the symptoms affect your body. An allergy causes reactions in the immune system and in some cases the symptoms can be severe or life-threatening. Symptoms of an intolerance are in most cases limited to the digestive system and although uncomfortable, they’re rarely as serious as symptoms of an allergy can be.

How to cure lactose intolerance symptoms?

Remember to always consult your doctor or dietician if you suspect that you're lactose intolerant or have a cow’s milk allergy or if you have any questions about this matter To avoid the symptoms of lactose intolerance, you should reduce your lactose intake to a level you can tolerate. For some lactose intolerants it helps to spread out the lactose intake during the day. Some also take lactase pills before a meal with a lot of lactose to make sure that the body can digest the lactose. Lactose free products are also an obvious solution as they give you the same yumminess and benefits as regular dairy product, but without the lactose.

Want to know more? Check these out!

Always ask your doctor or dietician if you experience any discomfort or what you believe could be symptoms of lactose intolerance. We love lactose-free dairy, but we’re far from medical experts.