Health Advice

Lactose Intolerance

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Sometimes people mistakenly attribute symptoms of a milk allergy, such as eczema, to lactose intolerance. Additionally, people often tolerate fermented milk products such as cheese and yogurt better, so these foods may help people meet their calcium needs without causing symptoms .

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These symptoms typically occur within 30 minutes to two hours after consuming food containing lactose. Some illnesses can cause these same problems, but a health care professional can do tests to see if the problems are caused by lactose intolerance or by another condition. Allergies and lactose intolerance can be passed down through families. You may be more prone to developing a food allergy if family members have allergies, too.

One difference between IBD and lactose intolerance is the presence of blood in your stool. If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or dairy products lower in lactose, such as yogurt and cheese. You may be able to consume dairy products in small amounts without symptoms. Lactose-free or lactose-reduced products do not protect a person who is allergic to dairy products from experiencing an allergic reaction. People with milk allergies are allergic to the milk protein, which is still present when the lactose is removed.

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  • The low amount of lactase then makes milk products difficult to digest and leads to lactose intolerance symptoms.
  • It stays high enough, though, to digest the amount of dairy in a typical adult diet.
  • A doctor can usually determine if you are lactose intolerant by taking a medical history.
  • As children replace milk with other foods, lactase production normally decreases.
  • In primary lactose intolerance, lactase production declines below normal at some point for reasons that are unclear.

It doesn’t make enough lactase—an enzyme in your small intestine that helps your body break down the sugar in milk. As a result, undigested lactose reaches your colon, where it reacts with gut bacteria. A food allergy is an immune system reaction that can affect organs throughout the body. If you have a food sensitivity, your body can’t properly digest a certain food, or a food bothers your digestive system. Symptoms of food sensitivity are mostly limited to digestive problems such as abdominal pain, nausea, gas, and diarrhea.

That includes any type of allergy, such as hay fever or eczema. With lactose intolerance, your body essentially has an enzyme deficiency.

If you believe you or your child has a food allergy, see a doctor to discuss evidence-based testing options like skin prick or blood testing. Treatment involves reducing or removing sources of lactose from your diet, including milk, cream and ice cream. However, many people with lactose intolerance can drink up to 1 cup of milk without experiencing symptoms. There have been reports of other symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue and eczema, but these are rarer and not well established.

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