Even today, there is no cure for lactose intolerance, but many individuals can effectively manage the symptoms by making the necessary changes in their diet. In cases where lactose intolerance is due to gastroenteritis, they are only temporary and improve within a few days or weeks. Other cases particularly those due to a hereditary genetic error or a long-standing condition are likely to be life-long.
In most circumstances, reducing or avoiding sources of lactose and substituting them with lactose-free options is enough to manage the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
The exact modifications on the diet usually depend on the sensitivity level of lactose. Some individuals are able to tolerate some lactose in the diet without any issues while others suffer symptoms after ingesting a small amount.
If the individual decides to try out foods, it is vital to make sure that new foods are introduced in a gradual manner. This will help the individual become used to any foods that he/she might be sensitive to and determine those that trigger issues.
Ingesting fewer products that contain lactose or avoid them entirely might lead to missing out on certain vitamins and minerals in the diet as well as increasing the risk for complications. In addition, make sure that adequate nutrition is acquired from either lactose-free food or dietary supplements.
If a child is highly sensitive to lactose, a doctor should be consulted about the right diet. In most cases, regular check-up on the bone mineral density is needed or a dietician should be consulted.
Sources of lactose
The main sources of lactose should be reduced or avoided if an individual has lactose intolerance.
A main source of lactose is milk including milk from goat, cow and sheep. Depending on the severity of lactose intolerance, modifications must be made on the amount of milk consumed.
Even if a minimal amount of milk triggers the symptoms, there are alternatives that can be used such as rice or soya milk.
Other dairy products that are made from milk such as ice cream, butter and cheese also contain high levels of lactose and must be avoided by those who have lactose intolerance.
Some products such as yogurt and hard cheese usually have lower levels of lactose than milk and other products, thus the individual can still include them in the diet. It is also best to experiment with various foods to try to determine those that can be included in the diet since they are packed with calcium.
There are some prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as complementary ones that contain small amounts of lactose. Even though this is not usually enough to instigate the symptoms of lactose intolerance, it might trigger issues if the intolerance is severe or the individual uses other medications.
Lactose intolerance in children
If a child has lactose intolerance, they might be able to consume small amounts of lactose without suffering from any symptoms. This is considered safe but it is best to experiment to determine the ones that the child can eat or drink comfortably.