Related Conditions

Related conditions

Below you will find some of the conditions most closely related to lactose intolerance. To tell us about your personal experiences of any conditions related to lactose intolerance, or for any advice please contact us

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What is Crohn’s?

Crohn’s disease is a long-term illness that causes inflammation in the gut. It can affect any part of the digestive system, but most often the ileum (part of the small intestine) and colon. The disease typically follows a chronic course, which gets better and worse, with recurrent relapses or flare-ups of symptoms.

Between one in 1,000 and one in 1,500 people have Crohn’s disease in the UK. The symptoms of which usually first appear between the ages of 15 and 40. In Europe and North America, it most commonly affects caucasians.

Crohn’s & lactose intolerance Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease. When Crohn’s involves the small intestine, there may be disruption of lactase production, causing lactose intolerance.

This type of lactose intolerance may last only a few weeks, during a relapse, and be completely reversible. However, if significant scarring of the small intestine develops, it may be permanent.

Lactofree® allows people with Crohn’s, who may develop lactose intolerance, to remove lactose from their diet while continuing to enjoy real dairy.

Symptoms of Crohn’s • Abdominal pain• Diarrhoea (which may be bloody)• Vomiting• Fever• Weight loss• Feeling generally unwell• Skin rashes• Rectal bleeding • Crohn’s may also affect other body tissues and systems causing symptoms in the eyes, joints, skin and liver

Causes of Crohn’s The precise cause of Crohn’s is unknown. The condition can run in families and is three times more common in smokers. Not smoking may reduce the risk of developing the disease.

For more information on Crohn’s visit

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What is irritable bowel syndrome?

More commonly known as IBS, this is the most common gut condition and affects about one in ten people at some point in their life. It is most common among people aged between 25 and 45 but IBS can cause problems at any age. Women are more likely to be affected than men.

IBS & lactose intolerance Within a medical article for the BBC, written by Dr Patricia Macnair, people who think they may have IBS are told: ‘Make sure that you rule out lactose intolerance as a cause of your symptoms – this condition is often mistaken for IBS. Lactose intolerance can cause symptoms very similar to IBS.‘

As lactose intolerance and IBS have such similar symptoms, trying a lactose free diet is often recommended. Many medical reviews and research demonstrates that a significant number of patients with IBS experience improvement with symptoms if either avoiding lactose or taking lactase enzyme supplements.

Because there are many causes of diarrhoea that give IBS-like symptoms, in addition to lactose intolerance, you should also consider whether you may have a gastrointestinal infection, food allergy or coeliac disease.

While IBS can cause huge disruption and impact on the quality of life for those severely affected, it’s important to know that IBS is not usually linked to life-threatening diseases.

Symptoms of IBS• Abdominal pain, which usually ‘comes and goes’ – often increasing when passing stools or wind. • Bloating and wind• Diarrhoea or constipation, or episodes of both• Passing mucus when you open your bowels• A feeling of incomplete emptying of the rectum• Nausea and vomiting• Belching and heartburn• Poor appetite or feeling quickly full after eating

Other possible symptoms that aren’t related to the gut include backache, tiredness, muscle pains, headaches, and urinary or gynaecological symptoms.

About one third of those with IBS predominantly have problems with diarrhoea while another third are mostly troubled by constipation, and the remainder have both loose and hard motions, and others switch between types.

Note: passing blood is not a symptom of IBS. You should tell a doctor if you pass blood.

Causes of IBS The exact cause of IBS isn’t known. Many doctors view it these days as a disruption of the normal flow of nerve signals backwards and forwards between the gut and the brain. As a result, a combination of different factors go awry, including more frequent or stronger squeezing (contractions) of the muscular walls of your bowel, and increased sensitivity to the amount of gas in your bowel. Genetic make-up may leave you particularly predisposed to these changes. Psychological factors also have a role in triggering the symptoms, such as depression, anxiety and stress.

Symptoms may be worse after you have eaten or if you are under stress. Specific foods such as tea or coffee or fatty foods may trigger the symptoms. Antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (eg ibuprofen and diclofenac) can also make symptoms worse.

For more information on IBS visit

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What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease, also known as celiac disease, is a common bowel condition that is caused by intolerance to a protein called gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley, and is often used to make foods such as bread, pasta and biscuits.

Coeliac disease affects approximately one in 100 people in the UK. However, some people with the condition may have few or no symptoms. Many people may also have the condition but be unaware of it. Anyone can develop Coeliac disease at any age, including babies and children, although it is most common among people aged 40 to 50.

Coeliac disease & lactose intolerance If you have coeliac disease, you are more likely to also develop lactose intolerance as the damage to your digestive system caused by gluten may also make it difficult for you to digest lactose. This discomfort can be avoided by consuming Lactofree® – full dairy without the lactose.

Symptoms of coeliac disease The symptoms of coeliac disease can vary from person to person and the condition affects babies and children differently to the way in which it affects adults. Some people who have coeliac disease may also never develop symptoms.

Symptoms of coeliac disease in babies (which appear after consuming gluten) • Bulky and pale stools (faeces)• Smelly diarrhoea• Vomiting• A swollen stomach• Failure to grow and gain weight

Symptoms of coeliac disease in children • Poor growth• Pale, smelly, oily stools (faeces) that may be difficult to flush away• Diarrhoea• Anaemia (tiredness, breathlessness and an irregular heartbeat, caused by a lack of iron in the blood)

Symptoms of coeliac disease in adults • Stomach pain (which may come and go)• Excess flatulence (breaking wind)• Feeling bloated• Diarrhoea• Tiredness or weakness• Mouth ulcers• Weight loss• Anaemia (tiredness, breathlessness and an irregular heartbeat, caused by a lack of iron in the blood)

Causes of coeliac disease The exact cause of coeliac disease is unknown. However, the condition can be inherited, or triggered by other conditions such as diabetes and an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism). It’s also thought to be brought on by severe stress or trauma and after injury, surgery or pregnancy. Although it is linked to certain foods, coeliac disease is not a food allergy. It is an auto-immune condition, which means that it occurs as a result of the body’s immune system attacking gluten in the digestive system.

For more information on coeliac disease visit Coeliac UK.

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