Questions Even I Couldn't Answer
Updated January 15, 2000All right, I admit it. Every once in a while I get a question even I can't answer.
Usually that's because somebody writes in with a symptom or a reaction that I've never heard anyone else mention.
But just because it's new to me doesn't mean that others of you haven't undergone exactly the same thing. The collective life experience of a million people is always greater than any one.
If you can shed any light on these, send a response to me, Steve Carper, at SteveCarper@CompuServe.com.
If you don't spot your question here, be sure to check my Q and A Quick Finder Index.
Q. Does LI affect the color of stools in children? MY 15 month old will have green stools then after about 3 weeks it will return to normal.
Q. About 1 1/2 years ago my son, now eight years old, started having night terrors. He usually can drink milk and eat ice-cream in the morning and sleep okay at night. Can you tell me anything more?
Q. For several months I have been using a product bought in General Nutrition Stores called Natural Brand Milk Digestant. Each tablet contains: Lactase 25mg, Rennet 2mg. What is the rennet, which I assume is ground up animal stomach, doing?
Q. Has there ever been any studies on milk and attention deficit?
Q. Have you ever heard of a lactose intolerance that is worse during the summer? Every summer, I go through a month or two of horrible gas when I consume milk products. The rest of the year my symptoms are much more mild. Q. Do you know of any connection between chronic fatigue (ME) and lactose intolerance?
I have never run across any reference to a connection in any medical journal article. That doesn't necessary mean that no connection exists: that's not the sort of thing that doctors in the LI field study. But I can't think of any mechanism that would create a connection either.
Q. I was wondering about freeze dried Acidophilus (500mg). Is this effective with the problem of lactose intolerance? Is it as effective as Lactaid?
Lactaid (or any other lactase pill) probably works better on the great majority of people, as long as it is taken correctly. For more info about lactase, look at the Lactase page in the LI Basics section of my web site.
Q. If I can digest one slice of cheese fine (but no more than that), how long do I need to wait before I can eat another slice of cheese without taking lactaid?
All I can say is that your body is continually manufacturing a supply of lactase. As long as you don't overwhelm that supply, you're fine. Digestion is a slow process and it takes several hours for the food to leave your stomach and go through the intestines.
What does this mean in practice? That you have a lactose threshold. You can eat up to that threshold without symptoms. There is no way of knowing what that threshold is without a lot of trial and error. (And even then, there are a million other factors involved. Look at the Lactase page in the LI Basics section of my site.)
You should be safe if you don't have lactose from one meal to the next, since that gives your intestines time to clean out. If you nibble constantly on foods that contain lactose, however, you may find you have a problem.
Q. I'm seeking information linking back pain to lactose intolerance. Have you seen any documentation of this?
Q. I love milk. I love milk products. But now that I quit smoking I can no longer digest them. Do you think it is possible for the cigs to cause this?
Q. My main symptom seems to be horrible, searing heartburn that can stop me in my tracks. There is some intestinal gas as well, but that is not the main problem. Can you shed some light on what might be going on? Is there something we're missing? Or is this just another variation on the LI theme?
Digestion is normally one way, but occasionally there is a backing-up, or reflux, of material. Heartburn is the best known example of this.
Heartburn can have many causes, but none of them that I know of have anything to do with lactose. Few people realize that fats and chocolate, along with smoking and certain drugs, can cause the esophageal sphincter to leak. When you add that to coffee and alcohol, both of which stimulate acid production in the stomach, you have a huge range of common substances that can cause the problem, or at least make it worse.
So I'm stumped. And I need to hear from you. Do other people out there combine symptoms of heartburn with the more usual ones of LI? Does anyone has an explanation of how lactose could contribute to heartburn? If you do, please e-mail me. I'd like to get to the bottom of this mystery.
And here's one person's response:
I don't know if this is helpful, but your questioner might want to know he/she is not alone.
And a second's:
Q. I have noticed over the years that the severity of my LI waxes and wanes with the amount of physical activity I do. I recently started working out 4-5 days a week and noticed about a week or so afterward that the LI was "gone". I also noticed this several years ago when I was cycling about 20-25 miles a day for 4-5 days a week. Have there been any studies linking physical activity to a significant reduction in LI?
Admittedly, it's much harder and far more expensive to study a group over a long period of time. And LI is not so serious that it rates a priority over doing a longitudinal study of the causes of heart disease, e.g.
Still, I've been complaining for years that the medical community knows everything about LI except what's important to those who have it -- how to best live with it.
While I'm off in a corner grousing, my only form of exercise, has anyone who does the real thing had the same experience of feeling fewer symptoms while exercising regularly?
I recently received an e-mail from someone who told me that running increased his intolerance, exactly the opposite effect. I'm still waiting to find anything in the medical literature that might explain either case.
Q. Do you know of any relationship between acne and being lactose intolerant?
So, no, there is no relationship between LI and acne. Could this person be suffering from a milk allergy instead? It's possible, although I can't find any mention of acne as a symptom in the material I have here. Lots of other skin reactions, including hives, rashes, dry skin problems of all sorts, but not acne specifically.
All I can say is, go to a dermatologist or allergy specialist for a better answer.