Archive | Lactose Intolerance

Managing Lactose Intolerance in Children

Children drinking milk is a common sight to behold but what if a child cannot digest milk properly? Will she be able to replace the nutrients that kids normally get in drinking milk? Most parents of children with lactose intolerance share the same concerns regarding their child’s peculiar condition. Lactose intolerance occurs when our digestive system cannot digest lactose properly. Lactose is present in most dairy products like milk, cheese, ice cream and other mild based foods.

What is the cause of lactose intolerance?

The normal digestive system has an enzyme called lactase present in the small intestines. This enzyme plays a role in breaking down lactose in milk to simple sugars that are easily digested. In children who are lactose intolerant, this enzyme is absent which makes it hard for the small intestines to digest lactose found in milk and other milk products.

The most common symptom of lactose intolerance is stomachache after ingesting milk and other milk products. Some children feel bloated, experience flatulence and diarrhea. It gives a child an uncomfortable feeling of stomach upset. How can parents tell if their child is lactose intolerant? Try to avoid milk and other milk products and see if your child’s digestive problems will go away then try giving your kid a glass of milk after 2 weeks of no milk diet. If symptoms of lactose intolerance become present it is likely that your child is suffering from one. If you want to be sure you can take your child to a doctor and the doctor will do a breath exam to test for presence of hydrogen. Hydrogen traces in the mouth after ingestion of milk signifies fermentation that indicates lactose intolerance.

How to treat lactose intolerance in children?

There is no treatment for lactose intolerance other than avoiding ingestion of milk and other milk products that causes the condition. It may be difficult at first for your child to adjust in avoiding eating milk and other dairy products like ice cream, sundaes, and cakes. As a parent you’ll need to think of ways on how to supply your child with foods that are fun to eat as substitute to milk and dairy products with the equivalent nutrients milk can offer. Teach your kids on what foods to avoid especially when you are not around to monitor what he eats like food served in school. Soy milk is a good substitute for cow’s milk and margarine without milk can be a substitute for butter. Check with your doctor to avail of other alternative foods your child can try. There are also some enzyme drops available to add to lactose containing products that will make it easier to digest when ingested by a lactose intolerant individual. Encourage your child to eat other sources of calcium like green leafy vegetables, almonds, orange juice and tofu to give their body the needed amount of calcium for stronger bones and a healthy immune system. With time your child will learn to cope and adjust his diet to manage his being lactose intolerant.

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All About Diarrhea and Your Kids

Diarrhea is one of the most common conditions suffered by children nowadays. This condition is characterized by having watery stools and occurs for 3 or more instances a day, more than a normal person’s regular bowel movement. Even if there are many over the counter drugs available out there, proper attention and care must be exercised in order to make sure that it is treated the right way. It has to be noted also that diarrhea is the second most common cause of death for infants, and one of the leading cause of deaths in developing countries worldwide.

Types of Diarrhea

1. Secretory – this type of diarrhea is a condition wherein the body has an increase in the secretion of chloride ions. The secretion of intestinal fluids in this kind of diarrhea is the same as that of the plasma, which continues even if the intake of food is limited or there is no intake at all. The most common type of treatment administered to children suffering from this type of diarrhea is oral rehydration salts.   

 2. Osmotic - osmotic diarrhea is a condition which occurs when excessive amounts of water is absorbed by stool. One of the common causes of this type of diarrhea is indigestion, wherein the nutrients of the food children eat are left inside the lumen, which in turn pulls in water. This condition can also be caused by excessive intakes of Vitamin C. Children who are lactose intolerant are also prone to osmotic diarrhea for their body will have a hard time absorbing all the lactose after taking too much dairy products.

3. Exudative – this type of diarrhea is characterized by the presence of pus and blood in the stool. It occurs when the digestive system of a child is infected by food poisoning and other diseases like ulcerative colitis and E. coli.  

 4. Motility-related this is the most common type of diarrhea suffered by children and adults alike. Motility-related diarrhea or hypermotility happens when food quickly moves inside the intestines, which results to the lack of time of the body to absorb all the water and nutrients carried by those foods. The most common treatment for this type of diarrhea is loperamide.  


Treatment of Diarrhea

In most cases, diarrhea can be treated at home with over the counter drugs. But in some cases, proper monitoring is needed. Below are some of the instances wherein a parent should be very observant and should consider seeking the help of a medical professional:

  1. When infants have diarrhea (in cases of young children, if they have severe or moderate diarrhea).
  2. When there is blood on the stool.
  3. When diarrhea persists for more than a couple of days.
  4. When diarrhea is associated with fever, abdominal pains and sudden loss of weight.

In a lot of diarrhea cases, the replacement of salts and fluids which were lost during the term of the condition is the most common treatment. This type of treatment is usually done orally (through oral rehydration therapy). But in cases wherein the diarrhea is severe, intravenous administration of oral rehydration salts is needed.

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Lactose Intolerance in Infants

Lactose intolerance is the term given to the body’s varying degrees of inefficiency in the digestion of lactose. Inside the small intestine an enzyme called ‘lactase’ is produced, and it is this enzyme which is needed to digest lactose. For reasons which shall be explained in a moment, when lactase is in short supply within the small intestine, and the levels of lactose input overwhelm the levels of lactase, there can be symptoms of lactose intolerance which result. Symptoms of lactose intolerance in infants and adults can be stomach complaints, stomach cramp and diarrhoea – perhaps even nausea.

Whilst lactose intolerance is one of the most widespread complaints suffered among adults, lactose intolerance in infants tends to be much rarer. A reason of genetic evolution exists for this. In most cases, when we are in our infancy, our body’s levels of lactase production are at their highest. This is because babies are weaned on breast milk (which also contains lactose, as does all milk) therefore a baby can tolerate a high amount of lactose.

When the breastfeeding period is over, levels of lactase production begin to drop significantly in most people. This occurs around the age of 2 to 5 years. Before humans begin to domesticate animals such as cows and drink their milk, for the vast time of human history milk has never been drunk beyond weaning as part of a staple diet as it is now.

This may sound like drinking milk is hammering a square peg into a round hole, especially for those most affected by the toil of lactose intolerance, but there are many solutions to this problem. By far the best solution is to replace any products which are regular dairy products with a lactose free variety. Remember, there are many different brands, and you may need to try out a good few before you find which the best are.

The most obvious ways of discovering if an infant is lactose intolerant is by checking stools, but also heeding any complaints or cries which may indicate distress being caused by lactose intolerance.

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