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Nullo's avatar

Could you help me identify this medical condition / possible food allergy?

Asked by Nullo (21828 points ) February 15th, 2013

A friend of mine has trouble processing milk-based products other than butter. She’s alright with a bit now and then – a bowl of ice cream, for instance – but too much, or too frequently, and she gets stomach pains.
It’s a fairly recent development, cropping up within the last couple of years. I thought at first that it was a lactose intolerance, but apparently most cheese has no lactose and gives her trouble all the same.

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11 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

Best for your friend to see a doctor about this, of course, but I do know that there is a difference between milk/dairy allergies, and lactose intolerance and food “intolerance” as opposed to a true allergy. Allergies can develop later in life as can food “intolerances.”

Lactose intolerance vs. dairy allergy

Food allergies/intolerances

Just an overview, very brief, but it could be a number of things. Best for a doctor to figure it all out, I think.

JLeslie's avatar

Some cheeses have more lactose than others. She probably would be helped by taking a few lactaid pills before eating anything dairy. I had a problem for years, it started in college and lasted about 8 years. The pills definitely helped.

The problem went away completely after I had some mega antibiotics fir something completely unrelated. Not sure if it was cooincidence or not, but it is interesting.

wundayatta's avatar

I just went through a scare where I was having all kinds of stomach and intestinal symptoms for several months. Finally, I cut out milk and ice cream and even wheat and fructose all at the same time. I got better. Then I went back to eating these things, and I did not get worse. Although eating a lot of ice cream at one sitting does seem to bring back the symptoms for a short period of time.

So I don’t think I have lactose intolerance, nor do I think there is any allergy going on. The doctor wanted to check me for guardia. Asked if I had drunk any water from wells (I had). But I got better before they could treat me.

I have no advice here, other than to say these things can go away on their own, or maybe if you make a change, and they might not be allergies or intolerance, either. Still, it’s worth seeing a doctor, if only for the placebo affect. I get better almost as soon as I saw the doctor, and he didn’t do anything except see me. This happens often. It’s as if seeing the doctor is my way of saying I’m ready to be better.

gailcalled's avatar

In spite fo the convention wisdom of the glories of milk and its byproducts, the human digestive tract is not designed to like it.

Why not simply enjoy the occasional snippets of cheese or tastes of decent ice cream and learn to love sorbet?

And I personally find the idea of taking a pill (Lactaid) in order to digest something that is inherently indigestible nonsensical.

I too vote for trial and error.

Nullo's avatar

Thanks for the input!

@gailcalled Sorbet is actually on the No-Fly list.

gailcalled's avatar

edit: of the conventional

@Nullo; Why? It’s essentially sugar, water and fruit juice, if not purchased at the supermarket?

gailcalled's avatar

Ingredients for home-made lemon sorbet;

1 lemon’s peel, finely diced
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup carbonated mineral water
6 strips of lemon zest, for garnish (Optional)

Unbroken's avatar

@gailcalled thanks for the directions. I haven’t been buying sorbet since I have trouble with all the corn syrup in it. Never thought to make my own.

@Nullo I just had time to skim the answers but it seemed as if no one hit this point.
There are three factors to most dairy products that can potentially cause allerigies. Lactose the most common well known and manageable. Whey and casein.

I had a blood test to confirm these results as I am allergic to all 3. The IGG IGE and IGA testing is viewed as a diagnostic tool and some people consider it more accurate then others. I have found relief from my digestive problems when I follow it though so I advocate it.

The other way is to elliminate all of them for a week and then add casein back in small doses see if any symptoms return if not add whey back in wait a week and finally lactose.
The IGG reaction is a delayed response it may show up a day or two later in various symptoms. Which is why you spread the elliminating and adding in out. To clarify these results.

Also check all the labeling of any item you buy drink or otherwise pills etc. They sneak it in things you would never guess.

Another possibility is that your friend could be reactive. But only in larger quantities. It shows up as a cautionary watch intake don’t over do it or you will become increasingly sensitive to it. The general consensus is to have these items once or twice a week only.

Unbroken's avatar

Another quick note. Non dairy or dairy replacers usually use whey or casein. It is better to stick to vegan if you are in a rush.

Oh and there is a chance after a few years your friends system will heal and be able to eat these items again. If someone is really diligent about it after a couple of years you are good to go. Conversely the longer you try to cheat or get away with sneaking these items in since all they do is cause you pain. The symptoms intensify and mosre damage is being done to your digestive system.

Cbullman10's avatar

I had almost this exact same thing happen to me the past few months. My doctor told me that it was caused because of anxiety. I would recommend going to a doctor to have it checked out.

augustlan's avatar

I’m lactose intolerant, but different dairy items cause various (or no) levels of distress. I use Lactaid pills when I know that what I’m about to eat will cause trouble. I love dairy way too much to give it up. A simple test can determine if your friend is lactose intolerant, or possibly allergic.

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