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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    How is lactose intolerance related to celiac disease?*

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Lactose intolerance is frequently a side effect of celiac disease. Celiacs who eat gluten become lactose intolerant after the villi and microvilli in their small intestine become damaged, and are no longer capable of catching and breaking down the lactose molecule. The problem usually disappears when celiacs remove gluten from their diet, which allows the damaged villi and microvilli to grow back. Lactose intolerance symptoms can continue for a long time after a celiac has gone on a 100% gluten-free diet. In some cases the villi and microvilli damage can take up to two years to heal completely, but in most cases it takes between six months and a year. Most people who are lactose intolerant can usually eat goat and sheep (feta) cheeses without any problems.


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    I have had celiacs for over 10 years (not sure since it only was diagnosed then) - Although I went on a gluten free diet I still had awful symptoms. Then I realized I could digest milk products and started to feel better once I stopped all milk products. Unfortunately I discovered that I already had some type of neuropathy which seems to be getting worse despite gluten and lactose free diet. I have terrible seasonal allergies that are getting worse. Anyone else have similar experiences?

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    I am 19 and three years ago I was diagnosed celiac, I had severe eczema all over yet the dermatologists took a biopsy and said it was not dermatitis, so they have provided me with cyclosporine its incredible cleared up my eczema straight away now I can eat milk products and fatty products and it doesn't flair up like it used to, however recently been having similar symptoms to that of gluten with cream, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, Thornton's chocolates and double cream but the doctors are reluctant to give me a lactose intolerant test, think they already think I'm using up enough of NHS money what with my gluten free products, it's interesting to have read that the two are interlinked perhaps I'll just stop eating lactose as well or go and get some of those Lactaid tablets!! Thanks for all your help!!

    I have been gluten free for two weeks and started feeling better right away. I have been eating ice cream and milk with a Lactaid pill and no problem until today when I ate some different ice cream than what I normally (Tillamook) ate, you guessed It BEN AND JERRY'S! I feel very bad...never again.

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    OMG I had shingles last summer - got Prednisone. Felt energy for the first time in a decade! Shingles gone, mouth sores gone, happy, eat gluten free healthy just fine. Then, NOT ONE DOCTOR WILL GIVE ME PREDNISONE AGAIN? I'm "60"...not the drugie type: just want to have my immune system calm. Considering going to Mexico to get PREDNISONE to feel alive again. Any advice? I am miserable and fatigued 24/7. help.

    You need to get your adrenal glands checked. What you may need is cortisol, not prednisone. You don't want to be on prednisone if you can help it. It could destroy your adrenal glands over time! Get a saliva cortisol test. Or you can go to a Naturopath and ask for a saliva cortisol test. This is more accurate than a blood test, although for some reason MD's don't like to do saliva testing. You should also get your thyroid tested: TSH, Free T3, Free T4, and thyroid antibodies.

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    My mom, sister, and 2 aunts have celiac disease. I am lactose intolerant but as long as I stay on that diet I do not have any symptoms. Recently I had a positive Lupus test which then came back negative the 2nd time. I asked my doctor to test me for celiac and he did but the blood test came back as I did not have it. I am cold all the time and my family feels these are signs of celiac and that many people get false test results. Has anyone else had this or similar experiences that can offer me some advice? I do not want to be causing hard to my body and have future effects from it, but I also don't want to go on an expensive diet if I don't have to. I am 35 and have been lactose intolerant since I was about 23. Thank you for any insight!

    If you are cold all the time you need to get your thyroid checked out. Get the following tests done: TSH, Free T3, Free T4, and thyroid antibodies!

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    Wow. I learned so much from this site. Me, Celiac + Lactose Intolerant + Insomnia + Vegetarian. OMG WHAT'S LEFT TO EAT?

    Became "iron toxic" from eating ALL green. Afraid to eat anything. (no processed foods/canned foods/frozen foods). Any advice? Not one of 9 doctors asked me about diet! I must be my own doctor: most do not have a clue to the diet importance.

    The reason that doctors don't ask you about your diet very often is because they are not R.D.'s (Registered Dieticians). Often, the only nutrition related classes that they take in great detail are while they are getting their Bachelor's degree. Very little, if any, after that. Dr.'s are mainly taught to recognize symptoms and read results to diagnose problems. Most only know about diet related problems through their own studying or experience.

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    If you've gone totally gluten free, but are still experiencing a lot of the symptoms, I would definitely stop eating dairy for awhile as well. But maybe more than that, I think it's a good idea to go on a candida diet, or close to it, if you can handle that (at least eliminate/reduce dairy, sugars, processed foods for awhile). An unhealthy celiac body is an easy target for yeast production - and that can cause a lot of similar symptoms.....skin problems, headaches, mucus, fatigue, brain fog, etc.

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    I don't know my diagnosis, but my doctor suggested that I try a no lactose diet. It works a little. I might be eating food containing partly lactose. And hopefully I'm good with gluten. Alltogether comments are very useful.

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    I've been diagnosed with celiac for 3 months, now the severe stomach bloating, even after going on a lactose free diet, I don't know what else to do, I am very miserable...any suggestions?

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    I have been on a gluten-free diet for almost 3 years and it has not helped my celiac symptoms much. Until very recently, I was eating dairy products and thinking nothing of it. Well, I finally started taking a Lactaid tablet before consuming dairy and- voila!- much, much better now. Can't believe I suffered for so long without knowing I had become lactose intolerant due to the celiac.

    Best wishes to all gluten & lactose

    allergic folks out there. Don't give up HOPE!

    Mari, I too was recently diagnosed with celiac and now my bloating continues even with a 100% gluten free diet. I am experimenting with avoiding dairy with some success. What lactose aid are you taking to get this result?

    Thank you.

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  • About Me

    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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