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The treatment of lactose intolerance depends on the cause.
Secondary lactose intolerance: If lactose tolerance is due to some condition or problem of the gut then the doctor would aim at treating the condition and recovering the normal production of lactase.
Premature babies with secondary lactose malabsorption improves without treatment.
If lactose intolerance is due to primary malabsorption (due to genetic factors), then treatment consist of reducing the intake of lactose and taking other supportive measures.
This can be done by two ways:
• Avoiding or reducing milk and milk products: Most people with lactose intolerance can enjoy some quantity of lactose and thus may avoid development of the symptoms by reducing the intake of the milk and its products.
• Taking lactose free or lactose reduced milk or milk products- this may help to reduce the amount of lactose in the diet without reducing the intake of other key nutrients present in the milk. These products can be found in some of the grocery stores.
Development of symptoms can also be reduced by using following methods:
• Taking smaller servings of milk or its products: Taking upto approximately to 120 ml at a time. This allows the diminished lactase production to digest small quantity of lactose leaving behind smaller amounts of undigested lactose.
• Drinking milk with other foods: this may slow the digestive process and may reduce symptoms.
• Trying different variety of dairy products: different dairy products have different amount of lactose.
– Hard cheeses like Swiss or cheddar have small amounts of lactose.
– Cultured milk products like yogurt and curd may not produce symptoms as it contains bacteria that naturally produces the enzyme that digests lactose.
– Some people are able to tolerate full-fat dairy products, like whole milk and cheese, better than milk products with no or reduced fat.
This provides external source of lactase with aim of digesting the lactose consumed in food. This can be taken in form of tablets taken just before meal or in form of drops added in milk. A study found that both lactase supplement and probiotic are effective in lactose intolerance and suggested that lactase supplement is significantly superior than probiotic. These products are not helpful for everyone with few studies showing lower benefits.
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