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KateTheGreat's avatar

Can you develop lactose intolerance later in life?

Asked by KateTheGreat (13635points) October 4th, 2011

Lately, I cannot eat ice cream, cheese, yogurt, or drink milk without having HORRIBLE stomach problems. Over the past few months, it has been getting worse and worse.

Question is, is my body just weird or have I suddenly developed lactose intolerance?

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33 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Yes, I used to drink a gallon of milk a week. Now if I tried that I would not be pleasant to be around. Surprisingly I can still eat some cheese and yogurt in moderation.

Try Farmer’s cheese, it sometimes is less irritable to some lactose intolerant people.

SpatzieLover's avatar


I have several former dairy farmer relatives that developed it in mid-life…formerly, they’d had zero issues with digesting lactose.

KateTheGreat's avatar

Also, another question….

Where the hell do I find ice cream that’s safe for those who are lactose intolerant?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Have you tried sherbet lately?

KateTheGreat's avatar

@WestRiverrat I’m not too fond of the taste.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Have you tried the lactase pills yet @KateTheGreat?

bobbinhood's avatar

I’ve been wondering the same thing. I used to eat crazy amounts of dairy, but now I get diarrhea whenever I have much at all. It’s rather depressing.

I’m not sure how reputable this site is, but the article looks pretty good. It indicates that most lactose intolerance is adult onset, and is caused by the body producing less lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose. It indicates that if you take a lactase supplement prior to consuming lactose, you should be fine.

KateTheGreat's avatar

@SpatzieLover Not at all! What are they supposed to do?

@bobbinhood I know how you feel. It’s awful whenever I eat dairy. :(

SpatzieLover's avatar

Lactase is what they add to the “lactose” milk products. if you have the pill prior to your bowl of ice cream, it should help you break down the lactose. They’re OTC and should be easy to find.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Oh yes, it happened to me in my mid 20’s :(
Are you also having any issues with soy?

What I do if want to eat something crazy yummy full of dairy is to take the lactose pills like Lactaid, Beano and generics.

KateTheGreat's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Haven’t tried out soy yet.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes. I had it very bad from ages 19–27 more or less. Then I took mega antibiotics for an unreated illness, and quite a bit of acidopholus to counter the antibiotics and my intolerance went away. Personally, I think the antibiotics did the trick, but it might be a coincidence.

The lactose pills did help during the time I had the intolerance.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@KateTheGreat: I made the mistake of trying everything I could made from soy bases in order to avoid the lactose and ended up with an exploding feeling gut.

escapadesofapoet's avatar

Yes you can. I would consult a doctor as it could not be full lactose intolerance maybe just a slight intolerance. Plus if you are intolerant to one food group the chance of intolerance to another is higher.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Yes you can and you can also get Celiacs disease and other digestive disorders later in life too and they can go away just as easily.

gailcalled's avatar

Another way of looking at this issue is that cow’s milk is designed only for baby cows and not for humans. I recently stopped eating all dairy products, which I found surprisingly easy, and feel much much better.

There are wonderful sorbets and sherbets and an absolutely delicious frozen dessert made from coconuts called Coconut Bliss.

I keep a pint of the dark chocolate in my freezer and have a T or two when I need the fix.

I have had stomach aches all my life too and now they are gone.

Last night I went out to eat and watched my friends devour pizza. As I looked at the oil dripping off the mozzarella strands, I was very happy with my large salad with roasted red peppers, broiled broccoli and artichoke hearts.

(And as an aside, I just gave away my six remaining eggs for my sister’s dog.)

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@gailcalled That’s undeniably true. Milk is for baby cows… not humans.

gailcalled's avatar

@GabrielsLamb: And I think that if you have an allergy to gluten (the cause of Celiac disease), you never outgrow it. You and it have a life-long bond.

My brother was allergic to gluten, as is one of my step-sons and two of his three daughters.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled Eggs are embryotic chickens not dairy, even though they are sold in the dairy section. I pretty much gave up dairy for a few of the years I had lactose intolerance, and there is no doubt in my mind it is better to live dairy free. I just need to start doing it again.

gailcalled's avatar

@JLeslie: I know; I just threw that in as an aside hoping that the message would be subliminal.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@gailcalled I developed a gluten allergy and when I lost weight it went away all on its own. Sometimes I think it is a colon issue? I was absolutely HUGE, quite sedentary and absolutely miserable and most of my diet at the time consisted of carbohydrates as we know these are “Mood foods” and when i changed almost everything about my behavior, it was gone in a few months.

gailcalled's avatar

@GabrielsLamb: Interesting. What would be a typical menu for you today?

I too feel much better, and although not overweight, I have become less sylph-like than I used to be. I notice that the lbs. are slowly dropping off with no work on my part.

Irritable bowel is horrible, I have heard, and the causes are mysterious, I have also heard. You are lucky.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled Oh. Ok. LOL. I was surprised you might not know, so that actually makes sense.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I think a lot of the irritable bowel and food alergies would go away if people quit using preprocessed packaged foods. I know most of my complaints did, and I am taking half the meds I used to take.

Gabby101's avatar

In medical school we learned that, in general, Asians tend to be born with lactose intolerance, while Europeans tend to develop it later in life. Of course, that’s just a generalization, everyone is an individual.

RocketGuy's avatar

I use Digestive Advantage, which has lactobacillius.


Yes. I used to be able to drink 2 full glasses of whole milk when I was a kid, but when I got into my 20s, drinking just “half a glass” of it would give me a bad stomachache and make me feel bloated and sick. I wonder how that happened, but it did. Now I drink only lactose-reduced milk.

I tried soy milk, but hated it. I don’t dare to drink whole milk anymore.

Brian1946's avatar

I’ve had lactose-free milk before and from what I could tell, it tastes the same as lactose milk.

Perhaps other lactose-free dairy products are also available.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes. Baby mammals have the enzymes to digest milk as when they’re born thats all they eat. Most adult mammals stop producing them as adult mammals don’t eat milk. Humans are a bit different as we do continue to eat milk as adults but they’re is always the possibility that the genes to produce the milk digesting enzymes will switch off.

Ron_C's avatar

People’s bodies react differently and I understand a lot of it is due to your ethnic heritage and associated with your blood type. It appears to be a minor evolutionary changed based on the available food your ancestors had available.

Other allergies evolve over time. I was recently diagnosed as being allergic to morphine. That is scary because when you are in great pain, it limits your doctors’ choices. I have a grand daughter that was born lactose intolerant, it’s a family trait brought from my son-in-law’s side of the family. My side thrives on milk, cheese and beef but can’t tolerate pork. Evolution is strange.

KateTheGreat's avatar

Thank you all for your advice!

cazzie68's avatar

I do believe this can happen. I think there is something you can take, if you want to eat dairy, that will help you digest. I have a sister who has been lactose intolerant since childhood (before there was a lot of discussion about it) who uses tablets to help her eat her favorite icecream. I also have a sister who actually outgrew it as well, so I’m sure these things change as we age.

In my case, I started getting ill whenever I ate food rich in fat and discovered I had a dodgy gall bladder. You might want to make sure it is dairy and not just fat in general. Gall stones are a tricky business and if you’ve ever passed one, you know how horrible it is and how much pain you can endure.

downtide's avatar

My intolerance is to caesin (dairy protein) rather than lactose, and I was born with the intolerance; my mother had to wean me onto pureed fruit at the age of 4 weeks just so I wouldn’t starve. It’s realy a miracle I survived the first couple of months of infancy. I think it’s not so bad as a lactose intolerance. I can still have cheese and yogurt (they’re fermented which apparently does things to the proteins and makes it okay for me).

In general though, allergies can appear (and disappear) at any age.

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