Lactose Intolerance – Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment

Lactose intolerance refers to a condition in which one’s body is not able to breakdown lactose because it lacks lactase. Lactase is the enzyme which is responsible for digesting lactose. Since lactose is typically found in dairy products such as milk, the health concern’s symptoms arise within a short span of consuming them.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, lactose intolerance is very common with about 70% of adults having the condition.

Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is characterized by symptoms such as nausea, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and fatigue. Some people also struggle with mouth ulcers, and headaches due to the condition. In lactose intolerance, the water and gas content in the colon increases which results in bloating. This causes the gut wall to stretch, causing distention.

Moreover, lactose is fermented in the lower abdomen by the bacteria there since it is not absorbed by the colon. This releases gases and acids which give one cramps. Both of these are also the culprits behind gas, constipation, and diarrhea when lactose is not digested properly. Nausea that is felt due to lactose intolerance can also culminate in vomiting.

Moreover, it must be noted that constipation is not a common sign of the condition. Typically, constipation, which can also be a condition on its own, is a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome.

Diagnosis Of Lactose Intolerance

The symptoms of lactose intolerance can also be an indication of another other health condition rather than a lack of lactase in the body. Someone who thinks he has lactose intolerance may actually be allergic to milk. Milk allergy can be a life-threatening condition. Therefore, it is crucial to get a diagnosis.

You can rule out lactose intolerance by avoiding lactose-containing products for a couple of days. Do your symptoms decrease? If yes, drink a glass of milk to notice if or not the symptoms arise again. If so, there is a high chance you have lactose intolerance. There are a couple of tests that doctors can perform to check if you are lactose intolerant. These include:

  • Hydrogen breath tests
  • Lactose intolerance blood tests
  • Genetic test
  • Stool acidity test
  • Intestinal biopsy

Treatment Of Lactose Intolerance

There are several lifestyle changes that can be made to notice a decrease in the symptoms that are caused due to lactose intolerance. The first step that can be taken is to consider getting the nutrition that comes from products that trigger symptoms to come from other products. While milk cannot be entirely avoided, one can take fewer servings of it.

This way, one can reduce the gastrointestinal discomfort that accompanies. Moreover, there are lactose-free dairy products available as well.

Key Takeaway

Lactose intolerance is a condition characterized by digestive problems that occur due to the body’s inability to digest lactose. Lactose is mainly found in dairy products. There is presently no way to introduce lactase into one’s system so the best that one can do is consume lactose-free dairy products or consume fewer dairy products which contain lactose.