Can ice cream cause diarrhea?

If an individual develops loose, watery stools after eating ice cream, he/she might be lactose intolerant, has milk allergy or irritable bowel syndrome. It is important to note that ice cream is made out of milk and contains lactose which can instigate diarrhea if an individual has one of these conditions. The individual should avoid eating ice cream until a doctor can be consulted. In case the individual notices blood-streaked diarrhea, a doctor must be consulted since this can indicate a serious health issue.

To learn to recognize and manage conditions that cause diarrhea including lactose intolerance, allergy or irritable bowel syndrome,  register for first aid training here.

Diarrhea-ice cream

If lactase is not enough, the lactose will stay undigested and enters the colon where it interacts with bacteria. This will lead to bloating, excessive gas, cramping, stomach pain and diarrhea.

What is lactose intolerance?

If an individual is lactose intolerant, the individual is likely to develop diarrhea after eating ice cream. The degree of the intolerance and the amount of ice cream eaten will determine the severity of the diarrhea that he/she will experience and other digestive symptoms that will occur.

Lactose is the sugar present in milk products. If an individual is lactose intolerant, he/she is deficient in lactase which is an enzyme the helps break down and properly digest the lactose. If lactase is not enough, the lactose will stay undigested and enters the colon where it interacts with bacteria. This will lead to bloating, excessive gas, cramping, stomach pain and diarrhea. Take note that the diarrhea can be prevented by taking a lactase supplement before eating ice cream.

What happens if I have milk allergy?

It is important to note that diarrhea can occur within minutes after eating ice cream if the individual has milk allergy. Always bear in mind that milk allergies are common and typically affect young children. Even though diarrhea is one of the main symptoms of milk allergy after eating ice cream, the individual will also experience other symptoms such as eczema, hives, rashes, wheezing, sinus congestion, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, swelling in the face and shortness of breath. An allergic response to milk is triggered by an erratic response of the immune system to the presence of the milk proteins.

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause constipation or diarrhea after eating certain foods. The common food triggers for IBS include dairy products. Take note that this is a common condition that affects many individuals all over the globe. Once the individual develops diarrhea in a consistent manner after eating, a doctor should be consulted so that testing for IBS can be started.

Considerations to bear in mind

Diarrhea that occurs after eating ice cream and other dairy products can be properly managed by avoiding dairy as much as possible. Remember that dairy is usually present in salad dressing, deli meats and even sauces.

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