The sugar in milk is called lactose, and people who are diagnosed with lactose intolerance are the ones, who are unable to digest this. The symptoms are indigestion, gas and bloating or diarrhea, etc. Mostly the symptoms are harmless, and as such, this is not an allergy that is easily diagnosed. This condition is caused due to the deficiency of an enzyme called lactase in the small intestine, which usually helps with the lactose absorption. Also, this is not usually a severe condition, and people learn to manage this allergy at times, even without having to give up on the dairy products.
Interestingly, this condition usually appears in adulthood and is not seen in the infancy or childhood. Certain risk factors can contribute to this like premature birth, increasing age, belonging to a particular ethnicity, certain other diseases and even specific treatments like chemotherapy.
Understanding lactose intolerance
The reason why this condition is found in adults and not in childhood or infancy is that of the lactase presence in early life. As we grow old, our lactase levels decline and hence, the ability to digest lactose also declines. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) report suggests that 65% of the world population develops this condition, after infancy has passed, but may be diagnosed quite late. If you have the mentioned symptoms constantly, a doctor may be able to help you diagnose the same. Most often, you may have to observe if the situation improves when you give up on the dairy products.
How to manage?
So, it is confirmed that it is entirely possible that lactose intolerance can occur in old age. Hence, you need to watch out for it and take help if required. There is no cure for this condition in that; there is no treatment that you can take to get rid of it. However, following a certain way of life, by seeking advice from a qualified doctor can help provide great relief from the irritating symptoms.
If you have to skim milk, then you need to figure out how to get the necessary calcium, as in old age that is important to keep your bones healthy. Depending on the severity of the intolerance, you may follow a few of the tips mentioned below:
- One option is to switch to soy milk, which is now widely available in all supermarkets or even can be ordered online. Soy milk is also healthy. The other option could be that you may be prescribed calcium tablets by your doctor.
- If the doctor has not asked you to avoid milk altogether, you may take milk along with meals or other food to reduce the symptoms.
- Take milk in small quantities with enough intervals to reduce the symptoms.
- If highly intolerant, please make sure to read labels for all processed and packed food. If you eat any new food item, outside of the home, make sure to check that it does not contain milk or associated product. Few medicines too, include lactose, so you may want to check that as well.
- Sometimes, few forms of dairy foods may not give you too much of symptoms. This can be learned by experimenting with the options and then sticking to the ones that give you fewer issues.
So, as such lactose intolerance is not a worrisome condition and can be managed easily, at any age. Hence, the way to live with it is first to identify if you are having the issue and then talking to a doctor to best manage the condition. Most often, people with lactose intolerance can live a good, healthy and normal life. All it needs a little care and caution to ensure that the symptoms do not get severe or recur often.