Ask the Doctor

Question #15:

My teenage daughter has been told that cramps and nausea she gets after drinking milk or eating cheese or ice cream are due to lactose intolerance. Can you develop such a problem as you get older?

Answer:

Stephen Bolduc, MD, of CHKD Health System’s Newport News Pediatrics says, “Yes, you can develop a lactose intolerance, usually because of digestive diseases or injuries to the small intestine that affect the amount of enzymes (called lactase) produced there. In many cases, lactose intolerance just builds over a period of years for no apparent reason. Symptoms such as cramps, nausea, bloating, gas and diarrhea can begin to occur within the hour after consuming foods containing lactose, a sugar found in milk products. Your pediatrician can recommend a test to confirm lactose intolerance. Symptoms can be controlled by avoiding milk products. However, since milk is a major source of essential calcium and vitamin D, make sure your daughter gets 1,300 mg of calcium a day and vitamin D for absorption of calcium. Green vegetables and fish with soft, edible bones (salmon and sardines) are nature’s best sources. Your pediatrician may also recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements.”


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