Unfortunately, there is no way to “cure” lactose intolerance permanently, but in some cases it can go away on its own. The best way to manage your symptoms is through a change of diet and/or taking lactase supplements. Lactose intolerance is an easily maintained condition that, when proper care is taken, causes only minimal discomfort, and in many cases the discomfort can be avoided altogether.
If you think you may be lactose intolerant, you should discuss it with your doctor so that he or she may perform the breath hydrogen test and confirm the cause of the symptoms. Intolerances to fructose and sorbitol (other naturally occurring sugars) as well as irritable bowel syndrome can sometimes mimic the symptoms of lactose intolerance, and ideally should be ruled out before you begin limiting your diet and taking pills.
There are many options for controlling your lactose intolerance, and the path that works for others may not be the right choice for you. It can be frustrating to know that there is no cure. However, a few simple tips can help keep it from being a big problem in your life.
- Most people with lactose intolerance can handle small amounts of lactose (up to 10g a day) and be perfectly fine. This is helpful if you know the actual lactose content in your foods, but if you do not know specifically, an easy “check” method is to look at the sugar content. Since lactose is a type of sugar, if you keep your overall sugar intake under 10g a day, you should have no issues.
- For some people, combining another food with their lactose intake can help to limit their symptoms. For example, instead of drinking milk by itself, have it in your cereal. This method helps because it essentially spreads out the lactose in your stomach and allows your body to take more time in digesting it.
- If you are unable to limit your lactose intake (or you simply don’t want to), lactase supplements may be the appropriate option for you. They can be found in most pharmacies and drugstores without a prescription.