Gastrointestinal symptoms

Diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal colic are common manifestations of food intolerance but may also be due to infective or other causes. The cause should be established by appropriate investigations. Food intolerance causing gastrointestinal symptoms could be due to enzyme deficiency and immunological and non-immunological reactions to foods. Cow's milk intolerance is a common problem during infancy that can be treated by excluding cow's milk from the diet. Replacement with soya milk or hydrolysed formula is given. Secondary lactose deficiency is relatively common following gastroenteritis, which is self-limiting. Avoidance of milk and milk products is essential during this period. In adults, some cases of irritable bowel syndrome may be due to food intolerance. If one or more foods is suspected this can be excluded from the diet and the response observed.

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