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Robert asked...

I have trouble dealing with Lactose

I have trouble dealing with Lactose and have had some embarrassing moments. I also seem to react to certain foods. I use Lactose free milk for example but I cannot always know what is in food. Is there any way of controlling this problem.

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The answer

Dear Mr Gray,

We are sorry to hear that you have been suffering with lactose intolerance. This problem is quite common and is where the body finds it difficult to break digest lactose found in milk and dairy products.

Such a condition has common symptoms of stomach bloating, cramping, rumbling and pain, as well as wind and diarrhoea, all of which can not only be very uncomfortable but also embarrassing.

Each person’s tolerance to lactose is individual and while some people may be able to drink small amounts of milk without experiencing symptoms, others experience a much more severe reaction.

It would be good to visit your GP and discuss this if you have not done so already. They may wish to refer you to a dietician who could help advise you on what to eat and what to avoid.

Generally speaking you will find lactose in milk and dairy products such as cheese, ice cream, butter and yogurt. However you can also find it in foods such as sweets, biscuits, cakes and cake mixes, instant potatoes and even processed meats.

You may find it useful to keep a food diary and record when you experience symptoms, which you can share with the GP. If you need to avoid dairy products all together then you must make sure you receive enough calcium, which a dietician would be able to advise you on.

Apart from avoiding foods that trigger your symptoms your GP may wish to prescribe some medication. Its worth noting that lactose intolerance can sometimes be mistaken for other digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and as such a full assessment and diagnosis from your GP would be appropriate.

We do hope that your symptoms ease and that you are feeling better soon.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses