Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder that occurs when the body is unable to fully digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. It is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down lactose into simpler sugars that can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, lactose remains undigested in the digestive system, leading to various symptoms.
Lactose intolerance – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment & pathology
Common symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, and gas. These symptoms usually occur within a few hours after consuming lactose-containing foods or drinks.
Lactose intolerance can be classified into three types: primary, secondary, and congenital. Primary lactose intolerance is the most common type and occurs when lactase production decreases naturally with age. Secondary lactose intolerance is caused by an underlying condition or injury to the small intestine, which affects lactase production. Congenital lactose intolerance is a rare genetic disorder that is present from birth and is caused by a complete absence of lactase.
Treatment for lactose intolerance involves managing the symptoms by avoiding or limiting the consumption of lactose-containing foods and beverages. Many lactose-free alternatives, such as lactose-free milk and dairy-free products, are available in the market to help people with lactose intolerance maintain a balanced diet without compromising their nutrition.
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If you suspect that you have lactose intolerance, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, who can diagnose the condition through various tests and provide appropriate guidance and dietary recommendations.
Lactose intolerance is a condition characterized by the inability to fully digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
If you suspect you have lactose intolerance, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis and management.
To diagnose lactose intolerance, healthcare professionals may use the following methods:
- Lactose tolerance test: This test involves consuming a lactose-rich drink and measuring blood glucose levels afterward. If your glucose levels do not rise, it indicates lactose intolerance.
- Hydrogen breath test: This test measures the amount of hydrogen in your breath after consuming a lactose-containing beverage. High levels of hydrogen indicate improper digestion of lactose.
- Stool acidity test: In infants and young children, a stool acidity test may be conducted. Undigested lactose produces lactic acid and other fatty acids in the stool, which can be detected.
While there is no cure for lactose intolerance, the primary treatment involves managing your diet. This may include:
- Avoiding or limiting lactose-containing products
- Using lactose-free or lactase supplements before consuming dairy
- Gradually introducing small amounts of dairy to assess tolerance