Lactose Intolerance: Causes, symptoms, prevention, diet and treatments

To stay healthy, it is necessary to keep your stomach healthy, because most of the problems start with a bad stomach. Now, for the health of the stomach, an individual consumes a balanced and healthy diet, but not every healthy food item benefits everyone. One reason behind this could be Lactose Intolerance. In this article, we are going to discuss the symptoms and causes of lactose intolerance. In addition, you will also know that how to treat lactose intolerance.

WHAT IS LACTOSE INTOLERANCE?


Lactose intolerance is defined as the inability to digest foods containing lactose. It is also known as dairy product intolerance, lactase deficiency and milk intolerance. Lactose is nothing but a type of sugar found in milk and milk products. Your body requires an enzyme called lactase in an adequate amount to digest lactose. When the small intestine doesn’t produce enough of this enzyme (lactase), then it may lead to lactose intolerance. It can cause many stomach related problems such as acidity (acid reflux), diarrhea and abdominal bloating.

CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS OF LACTOSE INTOLERANCE:


If the cause of a problem is known, then it can become easier to avoid it. In such a situation, one can take precautions and can avoid this problem to a great extent. Some of the risk factors for lactose intolerance may include:

  • Premature Birth — If you have the problem of lactose intolerance, then it may lead to a premature baby birth.
  • Lactase Enzyme Deficiency — When a person’s body does not produce enough lactase enzyme, it become hard to digest milk and foods made from milk. This can lead to lactose intolerance.
  • Genetic Defect — If someone is born with a genetic defect, then it is possible that he/she is unable to produce lactase properly. It may increase the risk of developing lactose intolerance.
  • Causes of Disease — If there has been a disease that may damage the small intestine, then it can trigger the risk of having lactose intolerance. These may include small intestine infections, small intestine surgery, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and problems that cause diarrhea.

SYMPTOMS OF LACTOSE INTOLERANCE:


Lactose intolerance symptoms may vary from person to person. The symptoms may often appear 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming milk or milk products. If someone consumes milk in excessive quantity, then its symptoms can be very serious. Most lactose intolerant people can have some of the symptoms; including:

What is Lactose Intolerance and How to Treat it?
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach ache
  • Bloating
  • Gas problem
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Stomach heaviness

Apart from these symptoms, many individuals may also show other symptoms. However, these symptoms are not common.

  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Lack of concentration
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Urinary symptoms

DIAGNOSIS OF LACTOSE INTOLERANCE:


If someone is showing symptoms of lactose intolerance, then it can be diagnosed through some tests. Some common tests associated with it may include:

  • Physical Examination — Your doctor or healthcare provider may conduct a physical examination to diagnose this problem. During this, your doctor may examine the abdomen with a stethoscope. In addition, you can also ask about the symptoms and diseases related to the recent diet.
  • Breathe Test — During this test, the doctor measures the level of hydrogen in the breath. If the level of hydrogen is high, then it is possible that you may be lactose intolerant.
  • Blood Test — During this test, your doctor or healthcare provider first asks the person to consume milk or lactose-containing substances. Then; the level of lactose or glucose is detected by testing the blood.
  • Stool pH Test — During this test, the stool is examined. If someone has lactose intolerance, the pH of their stool may be low.

LACTOSE INTOLERANCE DIET:


If you see any lactose intolerance symptoms, then it is vital to pay special attention to the diet. In this section, we will give information about what to eat and what to avoid in lactose intolerance.

Diet for Lactose Intolerance

WHAT TO EAT:

If someone has the problem of lactose intolerance, then one should consume adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D per day. For this, you can consume lactose-free calcium-rich diet. These may include:

WHAT TO AVOID:

If someone is lactose intolerant, then he should avoid consuming lactose-containing foods; including:

  • Buttermilk
  • Soft and processed cheese
  • Cream
  • Milk
  • Ice Cream
  • Potato
  • Pancakes and Waffles
  • Butter
  • Custard and Pudding

TREATMENT OF LACTOSE INTOLERANCE:


However, there is no specific treatment for lactose intolerance, but you can reduce its symptoms by reducing or stopping the intake of lactose-containing foods. Some people only need to limit lactose-containing foods, while others need to stop consuming it altogether.

At the same time, lactose intolerance symptoms are managed by giving lactase products to some individuals. In addition, you can also adopt some other methods to treat lactose intolerance; including:

  • Enzyme Supplements — To treat lactose intolerance, a doctor or healthcare provider may recommend taking enzymes that help digest lactose.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements — Lactose intolerance may also cause a deficiency of calcium and vitamin D in the body, which can later lead to other problems. In such a situation, your doctor may recommend taking both these supplements.
  • Treating Problem of Small Intestine — If someone has an injury to the small intestine, it can cause the problem of lactose intolerance, then the doctor can cure lactose intolerance by treating that injury.

COMPLICATIONS:


If the problem of lactose intolerance persists for a long period of time, there may be some complications; including:

  • Osteopenia — In this condition, bone minerals are lost, due to which the bones become weak.
  • Osteoporosis — A disease related to bones, which thins and weakens the bones. Due to this, the bones become fragile, which increases the risk of fracture.
  • Malnutrition — This is a condition when the body does not get enough nutrients.
  • Weight Loss — Due to lactose intolerance, the body does not get the necessary nutrients. As a result, the person’s body may become weak and lose weight.

PREVENTION TIPS FOR LACTOSE INTOLERANCE:


There is no specific way to avoid lactose intolerance. The only way to avoid lactose intolerance may be to reduce or stop taking diet rich in lactose. Along with this, you can adopt following other tips:

  • Avoid taking lactose-rich foods such as cheese, milk, buttermilk, cream, etc.
  • To improve digestion, you can take the help of yoga and exercise.
  • To avoid this problem, you can consume fiber-rich foods, which can improve digestion.
  • Avoid consumption of junk food, which can spoil the digestive system.
  • Keep the body and digestive system healthy by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

TAKE AWAY


Lactose intolerance is not a serious disease, for which a person has to panic so much. One can live normal life with this problem, they just have to stay away from the consumption of certain foods in this situation. Also note that when lactose intolerant people consume more dairy products containing lactose, then the condition can also become severe. So be alert and keep yourself safe.

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REFERENCES:

  1. Symptoms & Causes of Lactose Intolerance; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
  2. Lactose Intolerance; Talia F. Malik and Kiran K. Panuganti; National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  3. Lactose intolerance; Medline Plus.
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  5. Treatment for Lactose Intolerance; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
  6. Lactose Intolerance; Medline Plus.
  7. Osteopenia; Matthew Varacallo, Travis J. Seaman, Jagmohan S. Jandu and Peter Pizzutillo.
  8. Osteoporosis; Medline Plus.
  9. Can yoga be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease; Dharmesh Kaswala, Shamik Shah, Avantika Mishra and Hardik Patel; PMCID: PMC3734640. PMID: 23930033; National Center for Biotechnology Information.
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  11. Lactose Intolerance, Dairy Avoidance, and Treatment Options; Andrew Szilagyi and Norma Ishayek; PMCID: PMC6316316. PMID: 30558337.
  12. Malnutrition; Medline Plus.
  13. The effects of probiotics in lactose intolerance: A systematic review; Sophia J Oak and Rajesh Jha; PMID: 29425071.

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