Lactose intolerance is present in patients that lack the ability to digest the sugar found in milk, lactose. The body normally converts lactose in the small intestine into simple sugars that are absorbed into the blood. Because their bodies cannot fully break down the sugar, people with lactose intolerance experience uncomfortable side-effects after consuming dairy products.
The ability to digest lactose from milk is important for infants, but as other foods are introduced to a child’s diet, their body naturally reduces their ability to break down dairy products. Normally, the body can still handle the amount of dairy in a typical adult diet, but sometimes the body changes abruptly and stops producing the enzymes it needs to digest lactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- Bloating sensations
- Urge to pass gas
For many people with lactose intolerance, it begins in their youth and carries into adulthood. Although this condition is not life-threatening, it can present a challenge for patients to consume enough calcium to live a healthy life. As many as 65 percent of the human population has some difficulty digesting lactose after infancy, a sign that the condition is genetically linked.
A simple test is needed to identify if your symptoms are associated with lactose intolerance. Lactose tolerance tests usually require the patient to drink a fluid that contains high levels of lactose, and then measuring their blood levels to see how well the lactose was digested.
There are no medical treatments that allow your body to begin producing the enzymes necessary to digest lactose, but there are several treatment options to alleviate the symptoms. Avoid consuming large amounts of dairy products at one time, and slowly introduce small amounts of dairy back into your diet to help the body adjust. Talk to the doctors at GastroCare LI about the ways in which you can better manage lactose intolerance. Call (516) 265-7049 to learn more about how our medical experts can help.