When I asked my doctor if there are tests to find out if I’m lactose intolerant, he suggested I go by trial and error. “There are tests” he said, “but they are expensive and not conclusive.”
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose is a type of natural sugar found in milk and milk products. You are lactose intolerant when your body does not produce enough lactase – the enzyme needed to break down lactose.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
If you are lactose intolerant, you may suffer from bloating, gas or cramps, rumbling tummy, diarrhea or vomiting from 30 minutes to two hours after drinking milk or taking milk products. If one glass of milk makes you sick, it does not mean you’re lactose intolerant. But if you get symptoms every time you take dairy products, it’s best you speak to your doctor.
Lactose intolerance in infants is not common. It is more likely you develop the condition later on in life, as your body produces less lactase. Lactose intolerance is not an allergy. Milk or casein allergies are more severe. The most serious reaction to milk allergy is anaphylaxis which can be life threatening.
How can I live with lactose intolerance?
There is no cure for lactose intolerance. Different people react in different ways to lactose intolerance and what works for me does not necessarily work for you. As my doctor said, it’s a question of trial and error.
You may find that you can take small amounts of dairy products without suffering any reaction. Some people combine lactose products with other foods (eg. cereal and milk) to minimise or eliminate any discomfort. If you are not sure how your body is going to react to a milk product, go easy and try it in small amounts. Not all milk products contain the same amount of lactose. You may find that you do not suffer any reaction if you consume milk products in limited amounts.
What foods contain lactose?
Lactose is found in a number of foods and medicines. It is not only found in dairy products such as, milk, ice-cream, butter, cream and cheese. Certain breads, cereals, dressings, sweets and other food products may also contain lactose.
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