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Lactose intolerance

I developed what I think is Lactose intolerance a year ago after having Amoebic Dysentery. I have been off all foods containing lactose for a year now. I have no dairy whatsoever and check the labels on all food I but e.g. bread, cake, gravy etc. If I have something with a small amount of lactose in e.g. a tiny bitesize milk chocolate cake I will be constipated for a day. If I eat anything more than this then I get stomach ache, nausea and worse constipation. I ate a chocolate caramel slice about 2 months ago and had a bad reaction, I could even feel the butter in my throat as I was eating it as if it was poison.

I have tried taking lactaid pills before eating a small amount of lactose food, but they don't really do anything. They maybe help only a tiny bit.

I have heard that if it is caused by dysentery or gastorenteritis then it is called secondary lactose intolerance and it is possible that it will go away. As I have also suffered from IBS on and off for the past 10 years and had reactions to cheese during this time, I wonder whether I actually had mild lactose intolerance before I developed dysentery.

I wondered if anyone else has had lactose intolerance caused by dysentery or gastorenteritis and if so, did it clear up and how long did it take?

Is there anything that I can do other than take probiotics (which I have done) and would it be worth seeing a gastroentoroligist about it? I have not done so far as I am not sure that there is anything that he/she could do anyway? other than tell me to avoid dairy etc.

My intolerance drives me mad. It's not so bad when I'm had home as everything in my house I can eat, but when I'm eating out it is very difficult and it is awful watching people enjoying a big slice of chocolate cake! :(
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Hi, I have dairy allergy & have had lactose intolerance for a long time, and it sounds to me like you have a basic dairy allergy.

You should be aware that taking a lactase supplement will do nothing for a dairy allergy. The allergy is actually to the protein in cow's milk (well, actually that would be all bovine derived milks, including goat's milk). So you can take the lactase supplement of your choice & it will change nothing for the allergic reaction, if you are indeed allergic to dairy products.

You should also be aware that there is a link to dairy allergy & the disorder celiac disease (also that celiac disease is commonly misdiagnosed as IBS, the disorders share some common symptoms). The research I've read traces this to the fact that the protein in cow's milk & the protein in gluten (gliadin is the name of the protein) are very similar in shape & dimension.

The theory to the connection between the allergies (celiac disease is essentially an allergy to wheat, oats, barley & rye in the small intestines, that becomes a 'super allergy' - an allergy gone out of control, that becomes a 'hyperallergic' reaction) is that the digestive system gets cow's milk protein & the gluten protein confused as the same thing inside the small intestine, and the immune system mounts an allergic response to both proteins after a while, causing problems when either gluten or dairy are eaten after a while.

You should also be aware that constipation is a symptom of celiac disease (as is diarrhea... it's a strange disorder, depending on how your diet is & how well you are doing with vitamins & your amino acid digestion will determine whether you end up with diarrhea more often or constipation more often).

I know what you mean about being driven mad by the frustration of having an intolerance :-( but you really should seek out a gastro & possibly a nutritionist to help you get a handle on what you are allergic to, because it sounds like you possibly have multiple food allergies that you are dealing with & just don't know it right now :-(

Just for example, I went decades with impossible to figure out celiac disease (long story, but the gist of it is my immune system in general is just weak from my genes, and the condition was giving symptoms since my childhood but they were so weak & erratic in the test results the doctors ignored them, until I was about 40 & my abdomen almost ruptured after I ate some wheat germ!) & today I am allergic to:

gluten (wheat, oats, barley, rye)

I'm on a highly restrictive diet now that I am stuck making from scratch because I've got about nothing processed that I can eat anymore. I've managed to get a lot of my health back after nearly dying a few times in the last 8 years in trying to recover from so many decades of having active disease, but the result is there isn't much I can do anymore on eating out, or eating foods that are processed in food plants. And fyi, most food plants are extremely contaminated in this country, because they tend to process all kinds of different foods in the plants (check the allergy warnings on food labels lately on something like semisweet 'dark' (non-milk) chocolate chips for instance, you'll see what I mean).

So the sooner you get a handle on what you are allergic to & start avoiding it (them?) the better off you will be.

Oh yes, I get my calcium from Florida's Natural OJ (my favorite & no I don't work for them) & taking calcium carbonate supplements. You'd be surprised, but you can get a day's supply of calcium in a couple of 8 ounce glasses of calcium fortified OJ & a 250mg calcium tablet. You don't need milk or dairy in order to get your daily calcium :-)

Good luck to you :-)
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Avatar universal
Hi, thanks for the info, much appreciated :) I have had a test for celiac disease and it came back negative. But I have read that you can have it without a positive result. Is this what happened to you? I do find however that I feel fine after eating gluten products?

I only seem to have a reaction when they contain anything with dairy in them. To have a dairy allergy though, would I not have to have e.g. skin rashes, swelling or something? or could it be that I just get nausea, constipation, stomach ache etc? That is what's confusing me.

I too eat a very unprocessed diet. I love cooking and make everything from scratch. This helps greatly in keeping me away from foods that are going to cause problems and I am happy because it is so healthy.

I recently spoke to my doctor who told me that if I had had a mild lactose intolerance when I supposedly had IBS before the dysentery, that it would be unlikely that my intolerance will clear up, but if it is was caused solely by the dysentery i.e. secondary intolerance, then it is likely to clear up.

I am finding though that the longer I am away from food containing dairy the worse the reaction is when I have it again. But there is nothing that I can do about it.

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Avatar universal
Hi, in answer to your question, yes I come back negative for celiac disease in the usual tests but we learned later that I have a, hmm, how would I describe it, a wonky or defective immune system that was incapable of producing a decent immune system response to the gluten sensitivity I have. Also we found that I have a history of an immune system disorder called Selective IgA Deficiency, which means my system was not producing antibodies called IgA, which interestingly are produced in the gut, the digestive system. It turns out in me that my gut was destroying itself when I was eating gluten, destroying the ability of my immune system to produce these antibodies, & these just happen to be one of the major immune system markers medicine uses to identify if a person has celiac disease :-(

I can actually eat gluten products for a day or more, sometimes up to a week before my system goes haywire on me. I'm thinking as time goes on that has to do with my pathetic immune system in general just 'taking forever' to wind up an immune system response when I eat gluten (that & the fact that the gut inflammation from eating gluten is also destroying my gut's ability to produce IgA antibodies *as* I eat gluten, so it takes longer for a reaction to develop in me that way). If you can eat gluten on a continual basis, like days & weeks in a row, daily, monthly, etc, and you are not suffering from abdominal pains, strange skin rashes, diarrhea, constipation, depression, hives, etc then most likely you are not a celiac disease person. Also if your immune system is not pathetic like mine & is in fact an average healthy person's immune system, & tests are saying you are not developing antibodies to the celiac disease immune system markers, then there is a pretty high chance you are not a celiac disease person.

From reading your post again it sounds like you just have a dairy allergy, which is common :-( but believe me, you are lucky you don't have celiac disease & you should be thankful for that! :-)

As far as dairy allergy goes, the reaction to the allergy itself, since this is a food allergy, it takes place primarily in the digestive system. But typically other parts of the immune system get activated when an allergic response takes place in the body (since allergies are an immune system response to begin with lol), and so you will get other signs that you are eating something your body is having a problem with. As I recall typically you can get the feeling your throat or nasal & sinus & bronchial passages are closing up, since those are IgA antibody surfaces of the IgA immune system, and the origin point for the allergy is in the digestive tract, which is the source of the IgA antibodies to begin with. Look for sort of a mucous related immune response with dairy, like a buildup of phlegm from out of nowhere after you eat some dairy products, and the difficulty breathing pattern. It doesn't surprise me you are ending up with constipation as you are inflaming your colon by eating dairy if you are allergic to it, and depending on where in your colon the allergy is stemming from, you could get either diarrhea or constipation as a result. My guess is you are having a large colon problem with dairy, since you get constipation from eating it.

I do get rashes when I eat foods I am allergic to, used to get hives as a child, and that progressed into something called keratosis (pilaris primarily: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keratosis_pilaris), which kind of looks like a chicken pox rash most of the time if you ask me. I've also gotten a skin disorder called cheilitis on my lips off & on throughout my life. So the skin problems I think end up not being a very good measure of an overall allergic reaction in the gut. In some people such as me for example, our immune system is so pathetic to begin with, it's all it can do to produce a chicken pox looking rash when eating something I'm allergic to. I And I'm pretty certain I'm not the only one walking around with a wonky immune system.

Actually the nausea, constipation & stomach ache signs you are getting is probably it for you that you are allergic to dairy :-( but I look at your symptoms & I see the classic sort of allergic reaction immune system response in the gut to dairy. If anything you can take comfort in that, the symptoms are right on the mark for dairy allergy.

Without knowing if you were lactose intolerant before the IBS (which constipation btw is a classic sign of IBS, which can be treated very simply by merely avoiding eating foods you are allergic to) & after you got the dysentery, your doctor is right. If you were lactose intolerant before the dysentery, it's not likely the lactose intolerance will clear up for you. But don't make the mistake of confusing lactose intolerance with an allergic reaction, they are in fact 2 separate things. You can be lactose intolerant without being allergic to dairy products, believe it or not, just as you can be allergic to dairy without being lactose intolerant. I think you might be making the mistake I made when I found out I was both lactose intolerant & allergic to dairy. I thought if I took a lactase supplement that would make the dairy allergy go away. It didn't! All it did was - not much at all lol No I mean, ok, there was a little *less* diarrhea when I ate dairy, as opposed to without the lactase enzyme supplement, but that's all. The diarrhea continued because that's how my allergy acts with dairy because it was the dairy protein in the milk I was allergic to, rather then the lactose molecule itself. Lesson is, you cannot cure dairy allergy using lactase supplements, it just doesn't work to cure the allergy to the cow's milk protein itself, which is where our allergy stems from.

Also the last part makes perfect sense & again points to you have an allergy to dairy is all. The longer you stay away from dairy, the more you are healing the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, which you have btw because you are irritating your bowel by eating a food(s?) you are allergic to) you are subjecting yourself to by eating dairy in the first place. The longer you go without dairy, the more your digestive tract heals up, thereby making the allergic reaction when you eat dairy again that much stronger. It will continue to go that way too, so expect it. All that is happening is it's your body's way of telling you to knock it off! lol

It's not so bad living without dairy, it can be done. I take the calcium tablets & drink the calcium fortified OJ every day & my system does well enough to give me constipation too when I eat something I am allergic to, but my bones seem to stay fairly healthy (as long as I don't get constipation that is, which actually causes your body to not absorb a lot of important nutrients, so you don't want to go too long with it)

Anyway, I hope this helps, be well :-)
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