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Stomach ache, bloating, "gas" and diarrhea are all typical digestive symptoms that some people have after eating or drinking dairy products. People who have difficulty digesting dairy products may only tolerate certain amounts of lactose (a sugar found in milk and other dairy products). This is called lactose intolerance.

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: June 17, 2015

People who are sensitive to lactose need to read the labels on food packaging very carefully. Here you can find out what to watch for when you shop and how much lactose different foods have in them. All packaged foods have a label on them with information such as: Best before dateAll ingredientsIngredients that commonly trigger allergies or food intolerancesNutritional content and calories

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: June 17, 2015

People who have lactose intolerance are still able to eat and drink small amounts of dairy products - preferably together with other foods. So far there is no conclusive proof that lactase products and probiotic nutritional supplements help to digest lactose better. Most people with lactose intolerance have no or almost no symptoms when they ingest small amounts of lactose. Symptoms can also be milder if the dairy products are consumed together with other foods. That is because solid or fatty foods slow down the digestion process in the stomach. Less lactose then enters the intestine in one go, and the intestine reacts less sensitively. Research has indicated that some people can tolerate lactose better if they carefully and gradually increase the amount of lactose in their diet. But this has not been tested enough yet.

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: June 17, 2015

Some people have digestive problems after drinking milk or eating dairy products. They may only tolerate very small amounts of lactose because their bowel has trouble breaking it down. Lactose is the main carbohydrate in milk produced by cows and other animals. Human breast milk also contains lactose. It is not present in vegetable products like soy milk. Lactose consists of two sugars: glucose and galactose. An enzyme in our small intestine called lactase quickly breaks down the lactose into its two parts. Only after the two sugars have been separated can they be absorbed by our bowel.

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: June 17, 2015

Very low birth weight preterm infants are often fed through a tube into a vein (parenterally) as adequate growth and nutrition is important for lung and brain development. Early feeding via the gut (enterally) stimulates motility and digestive activity and is associated with improved growth, but this is not always possible. Lactase is an intestinal enzyme that helps digest milk and is slow to develop in preterm infants after birth. Breast milk contains components that help with lactose digestion. Lactose intolerance is often managed in infants born at term with low‐lactose or lactose‐free formulas, but these do not fulfil the nutrition requirements for preterm infants. Feeding intolerance leaves residual feeds in the stomach prior to the next scheduled feeding and causes abdominal distension, bile stained fluid in the lungs (aspirates), and vomiting. Preparations of lactase could potentially be added to formula or breast milk for preterm infants. There was not a significant effect on weight gain in the one randomized controlled trial identified that investigated addition of lactase. The review authors searched the medical literature thoroughly but found only this one high quality trial enrolling 130 preterm infants. No adverse effects were noted and lactase treated feeds appeared to be well tolerated.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: March 28, 2013

The typical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) include abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea. Although IBS is not dangerous, the symptoms can be very painful and bothersome. Here you can find information on the various treatment options and what you can expect from them.

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: October 20, 2016

Expert-reviewed information summary about the causes and management of nutritional problems that occur in patients with cancer.

PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet] - National Cancer Institute (US).

Version: March 16, 2018

Diarrhea is very common. It is usually caused by viruses and goes away on its own after a few days. But more severe or longer lasting diarrhea needs to be treated because it can lead to the loss of dangerously high levels of fluid and salt, especially in young children and older people.

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: June 30, 2016

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