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adult-onset milk sensitivity


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I have a number of questions - this is new for me.

 

I have a 22 year old son who is living at home for 6 months or so between college and securing (cross fingers) a 'real job.' Meanwhile his is working in a coffee shop. He does not have medical insurance, but my understanding is that when DH's insurance reenrolls in December, we can put him on it if we need to.

 

Anyway, this child has been quite healthy always. He is, however, an "over reporter" of symptoms. Just saying.

 

Lately he reports that anytime he eats anything with milk in it, he feels sick. That makes sense according to what I read, because apparently some people do make less lactase as they hit adult years. He is not my bio child, so it's very possible he has a genetic dairy intolerance that was not a problem in his childhood.

 

So I am trying to make meals that are "dairy optional." Also, he cooks and can shop, so we will do what we need to. But the thing that confuses me is that he says he feels like vomiting even when he has a very very small amount of dairy, and that doesn't seem typical from what I am reading if it's a lactase problem. For example, yesterday he ate a protein bar. Later I mentioned that those have a small amount of dairy. It's really a small amount way down on the list, and these were small protein bars. . He said, "Oh, that makes sense, because after I ate it, I thought I was going to throw up."

 

Well, that doesn't sound like just lactose intolerance, does it? To go from being someone who ate cereal with milk everyday and lots of cheese and ice cream to someone who can't tolerate even a tiny bit of dairy without getting sick. A month ago, he was eating dairy and not complaining.

 

So is there something else that would cause this sudden total intolerance? Or do you suppose that maybe he is exaggerating the symptom? Or not really aware of the bigger picture. I'm concerned there could be something like crohn's disease or reflux that is made worse by dairy but is bigger than just dairy. Or maybe it's just dairy and the onset really is that dramatic? He is the kind of person who decides things and sticks to it and then bends all evidence to fit what he decided, so I am trying to think through this a bit so I can talk to him. I don't want him to ignore something that could be a little different from what he is thinking.

 

By the way, he works out regularly, eats mostly healthfully, is normal weight, and is pretty disciplined.

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Guest janainaz

I was just having this conversation with my little sister-in-law last night. She became lactose intolerant when she turned 18 and she can't handle most dairy. Even if she has one slice of cheese on a hamburger, it makes her sick. She also developed horrible acne and she told me last night that her doctor told her it was linked with her lactose intolerance. I've never heard that before and thought it was very interesting. I don't know much else about lactose intolerance, but according to her, she can't eat any dairy or she feels miserable.

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I didn't know about my dairy allergy/severe intollerance until my 20s. I had mild symptoms all along but didn't make the relationship. I ate cereal and drank milk probably every day of my life before. It wasn't until I went dairy free for a short time and then had dairy that I connected the dots. And I was healthy and athletic at the time as well.

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that a small amount of dairy in a baked good will make you sick? Do you have to be very vigilant, or if someone offered you a muffin, would you eat a bit or do you find that you really pay a price when you do?

 

I am just wondering how radical he needs to be. I am sure he will find with time what works for him.

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There are two main potential issues with dairy:

 

1) lactose (the sugar)

2) casein (the protein)

 

I am lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is IME cumulative. If you cold turkey yourself & go off dairy for weeks or months, you can build up your tolerance again. Once you've tipped into symptoms though, they'll just keep getting worse & worse & worse. Soon you'll be bloated & have stomach cramps & diarrhea from even a splash of milk in your coffee. But if you're 'reset' you can often handle certain things in moderation.

 

For me, for ex. hard cheese caused less problems than milk, ice cream, or soft cheeses.

 

BUT over the years, I've worn out my ability to handle any lactose. I used to be able to use lactase pills for milk & ice cream & I could handle something like a bit of grated cheese on a taco or some mozza on a pizza. Now, I've had to cut milk altogether & switch to soy. With lots of lactase pills, I can have a bit of ice cream maybe once a week.

 

Anyway - to answer your general q - yes, it can hit hard & it can hit fast. & your ability to handle lactose can vary significantly as time goes by.

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that a small amount of dairy in a baked good will make you sick? Do you have to be very vigilant, or if someone offered you a muffin, would you eat a bit or do you find that you really pay a price when you do?

 

I am just wondering how radical he needs to be. I am sure he will find with time what works for him.

It really depends on his reactions. I can eat muffins,breads, and other foods that contain dairy - as long as there has been a chemical reaction that changes the make-up of the dairy. OTOH, mashed potatoes, cream soups, and those pies made with canned evaporated milk will make me very, very ill because the milk has not been changed significantly or chemically. Today I am struggling with a migraine because I allowed myself to eat cheese dip on a few chips at the Mexican restaurant at lunch yesterday. I rarely eat ice cream anymore because even a couple of spoonfuls can give me diarrhea or headaches.

 

It is really trial and error in a way. Like Hornblower I can tolerate hard cheeses (dark yellow, aged is best for me) but even with those if I eat too much I can have bad symptoms again.

 

One of the scariest experiences I had after my intolerances began was after eating some really sweet sticky buns a friend made. My drink choices were milk or water and I chose milk. After 2 swallows I could feel myself having more difficulty breathing. I have never had straight milk again knowingly.

 

I use soy now mostly although I do like Almond milk. For foods like mashed potatoes I use the plain flavored soy milk and make my own. In restaurants I just avoid anything with a cream sauce or cheese.

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Well, a dairy *allergy* might make more sense in terms of small quantities bothering him.

 

But the real reason I had to reply was because I just can't believe he's an adult now!!! Wow!

 

Not only is he actually an adult and looks like one, but about 3/4 of the time, he acts like one.

 

Time flies.

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I know, they do that, don't they?

 

Well maybe yours! Mine is gonna be a scrawny kid who still snuggles me forever!

 

Not only is he actually an adult and looks like one, but about 3/4 of the time, he acts like one.

 

Well. Hmph. I guess if it *has* to happen, that's the way we want it to be! :)

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I developed severe food allergies as an adult and I have lactose intolerance (however I can handle a little milk if sugar is added - it helps break down the lactose for me). I think you mentioned he does not have health insurance yet??? If that is the case, have him do an elimination diet. I agree w/the person that mentioned wheat/ gluten allergy. I have severe wheat allergy and ended up with an eosinophilic disorder, and if the gut is irritated by an allergy even foods you are not allergic to will aggravate the condition. Try eliminating major allergens, or ones suspected of causing trouble, wheat/ gluten and dairy would be obvious ones. Record any improvements, if any. Tell him to keep a FOOD DIARY. Write down everything he eats, what's in it, and record ANY reactions - headache, stomache, vomiting, diaherra, hives, loss of appetite, even achy joints and fatigue could indicate an issue. Once he has insurance he can take the food diary to an allergist and get testing. HTH! AngieE

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