Lactose Intolerance: What Is It?
Lactose intolerance makes it difficult for your body to absorb milk and foods prepared with milk (called dairy products). You may get diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gas if you have lactose intolerance and consume dairy products. Some tests for lactose intolerance can help your doctor determine if you have the problem or not.
Anyone can experience lactose intolerance. But Black, Asian, and Native Americans are the groups most likely to experience it.
Without lactose intolerance, the body produces a “enzyme” protein that breaks down lactose, the primary sugar found in milk. When a person is lactose intolerant, their body either produces insufficient amounts of the enzyme or the enzyme does not function as it should. The enzyme can also be harmed by some infections, such the kind you might get from food poisoning. However, if that occurs, the issue often disappears within a few weeks. Fortunately, those who are lactose intolerant can take an enzyme supplement to ease their symptoms.
What signs of lactose intolerance are there?
The symptoms only appear after consuming dairy products. They may consist of:
- Cramps or abdominal pain (usually around or below the belly button)
- Bloating (feeling like your belly is full with air) (feeling like your belly is full of air)
- Diarrhea (frequently it is bulky, frothy, and watery) (often it is bulky, foamy, and watery)
- Vomiting (this happens mostly in adolescents) (this happens mostly in teens)
Are there tests for lactose intolerance ?
Yes. There are two tests that doctors can perform if you have symptoms that could be brought on by lactose intolerance. These may indicate a lactose intolerance. One is a blood test, while the other is a breathing test. The breathing examination is more typical.
How to get ready for your test will be explained by your doctor or nurse. Before the test, you won’t be able to eat or drink anything for several hours. You might also need to change your medications or stop smoking for a short time before the test.
Lactose hydrogen breath test
For this test, you must consume a lactose-containing beverage. Then, every 30 minutes, you breathe into a unique machine. The device counts the amount of hydrogen you exhale. Those who are lactose intolerant exhale higher levels of hydrogen than usual.
lactose tolerance test (Blood)
To do the lactose tolerance test, you have to drink a liquid that has lactose in it. You will have blood drawn from you at the beginning of the test, as well as again 1 and 2 hours later by a doctor or nurse. After consuming the lactose, if your blood sugar levels are low, you most likely have lactose intolerance.
What is the remedy for lactose intolerance?
Depending on how serious the issue is, there are many treatments. However, in general, treatment may entail:
- Reducing dairy consumption
- Finding sources of protein, calcium, and vitamin D that aren’t dairy
- Taking an enzyme supplement to aid in the digestion of dairy products
How can I consume less dairy-based food?
You might start by reducing but not eliminating the amount of items that you know contain dairy. Foods containing dairy should be eaten with meals. Milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt, cheese, and butter are examples of dairy foods.
In order to find out which foods contain lactose, your doctor or nurse can advise that you consult a nutritionist. The nutritionist can also make sure that you consume adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
You must also read the labels on everything you eat if you have a severe lactose intolerance or allergy.
Inadvertently adding milk or lactose to items like cereal, quick soups, and salad dressings is not uncommon. Foods’ ingredient lists should be examined for anything that might point to lactose. Find the following words: “Milk”, “dry milk solids”, “dry milk powder”, “milk byproducts”, Lactose, Whey (whey is milk that has gone sour).
Although lactose is used in the production of several medicines, most lactose intolerant individuals can tolerate the extremely small quantity found in these substances.
Which enzyme dietary supplement ought I take?
There are a variety of enzyme supplements available, such as Lactaid (liquid or tablet form), Lactrase, LactAce, Dairy Ease, and Lactrol. Just before you begin eating, take the supplement. You can take it throughout the meal if you forget, but it might not work as effectively.
The most crucial thing to understand is that every product functions somewhat differently for every individual. Additionally, even with an enzyme supplement, some people still experience symptoms since none of them can completely break down the lactose.
Should I supplement with calcium or vitamin D?
Whether you fully forego dairy-based meals will determine this. If so, your physician or nurse may suggest calcium supplements. To determine whether you need supplements, they may also evaluate your vitamin D levels.
Is food allergy the same as lactose intolerance?
No. Some people are allergic to dairy products, including milk. However, the signs of a dairy allergy are frequently distinct from lactose intolerance. When there is an allergy, the protein in milk—rather than the sugar—causes the body to respond. Additionally, allergies involve the immune system, the body’s defense against illness. Not so with lactose intolerance.