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Recurring Abdominal Pain

You seem to be sensitive to milk products, and abdominal cramps in the navel area or in the lower abdomen may be caused by the milk in your diet.

It is common for people to lose their ability to digest the milk sugar "lactose" during adulthood. "Lactose intolerance" could be a cause of your abdominal pain even if milk digestion used to be normal for you.

About Lactose Intolerance

Undigested lactose passes into your colon where it can nourish bacteria and ferment into gas. Undigested milk products can also cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

Lactose intolerance can be managed with total or near-total avoidance of milk and dairy products. Some people improve symptoms by swallowing a milk digestion aid with meals called lactase (Lactaid).

One of the most practical steps in your abdominal pain evaluation might be to try a careful elimination diet that excludes milk and milk products. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, additional evaluation might or might not be postponed until your response to diet changes can be judged.

Click here for more information on lactose intolerance.

Other diagnoses that may be considered in your evaluation include

  • acute pancreatitis

  • celiac disease (celiac sprue)

  • chronic pancreatitis

  • Crohn's disease

  • gallstones

  • gastroesophageal reflux disease

  • gastroparesis (slow stomach emptying, a complication of diabetes)

  • indigestion (dyspepsia)

  • peptic ulcer disease.


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