A woman who didn’t know she was intolerant to milk discovered a two-year vomiting illness had been caused by her daily cups of tea.
Antonia Terrell, a 28-year-old investment manager, said she felt sick all the time and threw up ‘violently’ at least twice a day.
But despite numerous trips to the doctor, it took years before she would get to the bottom of the miserable illness.
And it turned out to be the milky cups of tea she so enjoyed drinking in the office which were triggering the illness because she was intolerant of a protein in the milk.
Antonia Terrell, 28, tried cutting foods out of her diet to work out what was making her sick but she couldn’t get to the bottom of the issue. It later turned out she was intolerant to the cow’s milk in her cups of tea
‘I used to feel nauseous every day and would be sick most days,’ Mrs Terrell said. ‘It would make going to work really difficult as I was always feeling or being sick.’
She told The Mirror: ‘It slowly crept up on me over a number of months.
‘I’d get into work, drink my tea – which had lots of milk in it – and I’d think to myself, “Urgh, I can’t believe I’m already feeling sick and all I’ve had is a tea with milk”.’
When she couldn’t find an obvious cause for the problem herself, Mrs Terrell, from south-west London, went to see her GP.
But they couldn’t find a source either and advised her to try cutting various things out of her diet to see if she could stop the vomiting.
This didn’t yield any results for Mrs Terrell and the months rumbled on.
As well as making her feel constantly unwell the problem impacted Mrs Terrell’s social life.
‘I wasn’t as sociable and missed a few events because of it,’ she said.
‘I spoke to my GP who advised to reduce my diet to practically nothing and slowly reintroduce some foods so that I could be made aware of what was making me sick.’
Mrs Terrell’s mother-in-law recommended she take an intolerance test to work out which foods could be triggering the investment manager’s sickness
‘I was having a lot of dairy in my diet, like milk,’ said Mrs Terrell. ‘And very milky tea turned out to be the main culprit.’ When she cut out dairy and switched to soy milk, Mrs Terrell’s sickness stopped
WHAT IS A MILK PROTEIN INTOLERANCE?
A milk protein intolerance is different to lactose intolerance or a milk allergy, according to Dr Gill Hart, a biochemist at YorkTest Laboratories.
Dr Hart said people with an intolerance have an immune system reaction when they drink milk, which may be triggered by whey or casein – the main proteins in dairy.
She said: ‘As well as digestive problems, milk protein intolerance causes other symptoms – such as migraines, headaches, fatigue, and skin issues.
‘With lactose intolerance the symptoms are usually digestive problems, as the body can’t digest the sugar.
‘But unless you get properly tested, you won’t know if you’re dealing with a lactose or a milk protein intolerance issue.
‘To complicate matters further, some people have both lactose and milk protein intolerances.’
She said that, if someone is intolerant, their body essentially sends immune cells to rid itself of the proteins when someone consumes them.
This causes an immune reaction – but not an allergic one – and can lead to inflammation which triggers symptoms.
Dr Hart said that while milk allergies can be life-threatening and lactose intolerance is incurable, a milk protein intolerance may be able to be controlled to allow someone to continue eating dairy.
Mrs Terrell finally used a test to discover she was in fact intolerant of a protein in the milk of cows, goats and sheep, as well as a host of other foods including nutmeg and vanilla.
She did a Food&DrinkScan programme by the company YorkTest, which analyses the body’s reactions to 208 types of food and drink.
She said: ‘My husband, Richard, had a long-standing dairy intolerance which wasn’t great for him as a kid. He’d suffered with it for years.
‘So he did a YorkTest – and that’s how I found out about it. His mum was saying that I needed to take the test as she suspected I also had an intolerance, so I did.
‘I was having a lot of dairy in my diet, like milk. And very milky tea turned out to be the main culprit.’
The test revealed Mrs Terrell was intolerant of a specific protein found in the cow’s milk she was drinking – a condition different to lactose intolerance.
This is different to a milk allergy but works in a similar way – it triggered the immune system when she drank the milk as it tried to get the proteins out of her body.
YorkTest Laboratories’ Dr Gill Hart told the Mirror: ‘This response is your immune system’s natural defence mechanism to ward off harmful invaders in the body which can create inflammation.
‘So, essentially, these reactions go hand in hand with gut imbalances and inflammation and are released in the presence of certain “trigger” foods.
And Dr Hart added that people intolerant to milk should pay close attention to product ingredients because they may also react to milk products listed as lactoglobulin, lactalbumin, casein and caseinate.
Mrs Terrell said some days she would go into work and be sick after having eaten or drunk nothing but a cup of tea (stock image)
After cutting out milk Mrs Terrell said: ‘Improvement happened very fast. A couple of weeks maybe and I had realised that [the problem] had gone!’
Since the test, which involved sending a finger-prick blood sample to YorkTest, Mrs Terrell has managed to cut dairy out of her diet and the daily vomiting has stopped.
Now a fan of soy milk, Mrs Terrell said: ‘I found the elimination process easy. I spoke to the YorkTest support team who helped me understand what I could and couldn’t have.
‘After trying a few different milk alternatives, I settled on soya as my favourite one.
‘Improvement happened very fast. A couple of weeks maybe and I had realised that [the problem] had gone!’