Lactose intolerance means your body is unable to metabolize the milk sugar known as lactose, which is prevalent in all dairy products. Although lactose intolerance does not have any serious symptoms, they can be very uncomfortable and difficult to deal with. The symptoms are easy to identify when you are an adult, but lactose intolerance is harder to detect if a child has the condition.
Lactose Intolerance Symptoms
Symptoms often exhibit themselves 30 minutes to 2-3 hours upon consuming foods that contain lactose and include gas, diarrhea, bloating, cramps, and nausea.
If you recognize that your child experiences any of these symptoms after consuming a dairy product, there is a chance they might be suffering from lactose intolerance. The most common issue with lactose intolerance among children is that some parents mistake it for a milk allergy. Although lactose intolerance and milk allergies do have similar symptoms, a milk allergy is an immune system issue whereas lactose intolerance is a digestive one.
How to Detect Lactose Intolerance
The most effective way to determine whether your child is lactose intolerant is to eliminate dairy from their diet for a short time on a trial basis. If the symptoms disappear, reincorporate dairy products into their diet gradually and slowly to see if they recur. The only flaw in this method is that you need to pay attention to the ingredients lists of the products you buy because even some non-dairy products may contain lactose.
Your child’s pediatrician can also perform tests to determine whether your child has lactose intolerance. One common method is the lactose breath, sometimes referred to as the hydrogen breath test. If the test measures a low level of hydrogen in the breath, this means your child is not lactose intolerant. A gastrointestinal specialist may also make a diagnosis upon examining a small intestine sample to measure lactase and additional enzymes.
How to Live with Lactose Intolerance
Since there is no cure for lactose intolerance, the only way to live a normal and healthy life without consequences is through a strict diet that is devoid of dairy. Taking over-the-counter lactase before consuming foods that contain dairy may help your child digest the food better. There are also a lot of lactose-free product options at most grocery stores. Often just lowering the intake instead of eliminating it is enough to avoid uncomfortable symptoms unless it is a severe case.
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