Lactose Intolerance

By: Joe Swails

What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products. However, lactose intolerance is not a milk allergy as such.

Lactose intolerance is the most common genetic disorder affecting more than half the world population.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

Abdominal pain and bloating

Stomach cramps

Increased wind



Loose stools (faeces)

Put simply, if lactose is not absorbed properly, it ferments. This results in abdominal pain and the other aforementioned symptoms.

As well as milk and milk products, foods which contain lactose include:

Butter & margarine

Salad dressings


Biscuits & cakes

Processed breakfast cereals

Processes meats such as sausage, bacon and hot dogs


Lactose intolerance can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms may be caused by another digestive disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome. But If you are experiencing the aforementioned symptoms, then make an appointment with your GP. After considering your medical history, he or she will assess your condition and ask you some questions, such as: when your symptoms occur, how often, and to what degree of severity. All this can help with isolating triggers.

Tests may be necessary to provide more information, such as:

A hydrogen breath test – you will be asked to take a lactose loaded beverage. Your breath is then analysed at intervals to measure the amount of hydrogen (undigested lactose produces high levels of hydrogen)

Stool acidity test – mainly for babies and young children, this test measures the amount of acidity in the stool (undigested lactose produces lactic acids)

Effect on your life
If you are lactose intolerant you will have to avoid dairy products and carry lactose supplements everywhere you go. You may constantly fear being sick and embarrassed when you are out in public. Things like ice cream and pepperoni pizza will be treats you will have to resist.

You may be concerned about the lack of calcium in your diet as a result of being unable to enjoy dairy products. But the good news is that many other foods can provide all the calcium and vitamin D you need.

How to manage lactose intolerance
The symptoms of lactose intolerance can usually be managed with dietary changes.

If you are lactose intolerant but can still tolerate some lactose in your diet, then it can be a good idea to have a glass of milk with a meal, rather than on its own.

Theses fermented dairy products allow you to enjoy dairy in your diet, without risk:

Probiotic yoghurts

Probiotic milk

Cottage cheese, sour cream & hard cheeses, such as Cheddar or Edam

How Chemist Online can help
Medical research shows that a good balance of friendly bacteria helps support health and well-being, in particular for those with digestive problems such as colic, diarrhoea, constipation and lactose intolerance. ProbioStart supports healthy levels of beneficial bacteria in infants and children promoting the development of a healthy intestinal environment.

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This information and advice is not intended to replace the advice of your GP or chemist. Chemist Online is also not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based upon the content of the Chemist Online website. Chemist Online is also not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites.

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