Intolerance to lactose, is it forever?
The health of the little ones is a concern of every parent. Just listen to a cough or see a different skin color for the alarms to jump. Therefore the desire of many parents is to know how to proceed to the various problems that children may present, from a cold to other issues such as lactose intolerance that makes minors have problems when consuming one of the basic products in their diet.
What does it mean that a child has lactose intolerance? It's forever? Are there alternatives to these items? In front of so many doubts for the parents, the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, AEP, has compiled a compendium where it collects several information of great importance for parents who feel doubts about the situation their children are going through.
What is lactose intolerance?
The first thing a parent asks when they are notified that their child has this intolerance is what kind of problem It is talking. This problem results in the inability to properly digest lactose, the natural sugar in milk. It is due to the lack of an enzyme in the intestine called lactase.
The undigested lactose is fermented by the intestinal flora, producing gas and substances that make the stool more acidic and liquid. It is important not to confuse it with cow's milk protein allergy, in which the mechanism and component of the milk involved are different.
Parents must distinguish between whether the problem is generated by a health problem or not. In the first case, secondary intolerance will be discussed. These cases are common in some gastroenteritis, so it is usually something transient that normalizes in a short time. However, this inability to digest lactose can accompany chronic diseases such as celiac disease.
Although the most common is the primary intolerance to lactose, due to the progressive loss of intestinal lactase after the first years of life. Europe is the continent where it is least frequent and even so it is found in more than 20% of the population. That does not mean that all those affected will have symptoms, because it depends on their degree of tolerance and the amount of lactose they consume. Although primary intolerance is often called adult lactose intolerance, the truth is that symptoms can appear as early as 5 years of age or even earlier.
Treatment and future
From AEP recommend that the first step to treat lactose intolerance is the exclusion of milk and products made mainly with milk unfermented In the case of fermented products, such as yogurt or cheese, the tolerance is usually better since they contain little lactose and provide bacteria capable of digesting it.
In the case of intolerance caused by transient diseases such as gastroenteritis, it usually disappears at the same time as the condition. In the same way it happens when it appears by a alteration in the mucosa of the intestine. These situations are usually remedied with the passage of a time in which the abstinence of this type of products is recommended.
For those where intolerance is linked to chronic diseases and where the symptoms are very strong it will be necessary to completely eliminate lactose from the diet. This involves reviewing the composition of bakery products, sausages and processed foods. It must also be remembered that this element can be found in medicines, especially in tablets.