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Question

I've just been diagnosed as being lactose intolerant and am watching my dairy intake. How does a person become lactose intolerant? Can the lactose in oral medications cause me problems?

Answer

Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products, and lactose intolerance occurs when a person does not produce enough of the enzyme called lactase.

Most people who are lactose intolerant can tolerate the lactose in oral medication because it usually takes around 12 to 18 gm of lactose - about the amount in 8 to 12 oz of milk - to cause the symptoms that include gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Most oral medications contain far less than this amount. However, some individuals may still experience those symptoms from very small amounts of lactose. In these cases, lactase enzyme supplementation may help. These supplements, available over the counter, help by breaking down lactose. Probiotics, which contain beneficial bacteria that may help break down lactose, are another possible remedy.

If you are sensitive enough, talk to your doctor about switching to either a different formulation of the medication or a different medication altogether. If these options are unavailable, ask about having the medication compounded without the lactose.

View lactose intolerance products available on Walgreens.com.

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DISCLAIMER:

Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a Walgreens.com pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

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