What is lactose intolerance?
This is a condition that makes it difficult for your body to digest milk and other dairy products. Those who are lactose intolerant may experience abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhoea if they consume milk-based food and beverages.
This is usually caused due to a lack of insufficient amount of a particular enzyme that is responsible for breaking down lactose. Further, certain infections that might be the result of conditions such as food poisoning, can inhibit the effectivity of this enzyme. This, however, is only temporary.
People who are allergic to dairy products may experience the same conditions, however here, the body reacts to the protein in the milk, rather than the sugar.
What are the types of lactose intolerance?
There are three main types of lactose intolerance. Each of these has different causes.
The first type is primary lactose intolerance. This is the most common type and is caused due to the dietary changes people make as they age.
The second type is secondary lactose intolerance. This is a result of illness or injury. Intestinal diseases like coeliac disease or IBD or injury to your small intestine could be a cause of this.
The third type, congenital or developmental lactose intolerance, is a very rare condition. This condition is present at birth and those who are diagnosed with it are unable to digest any form of dairy, including breast milk.
What are the treatment options for lactose intolerance?
Treatment for lactose intolerance involves dietary changes. As a first step, you may be asked to reduce or completely eliminate dairy-based food products from your diet.
These dietary changes, however, may cause certain nutritional deficiencies. In light of this, your doctor may recommend calcium or vitamin D supplements or ask you to eat other food items that are high in the vitamins and minerals you are missing out on.
How long do lactose intolerance symptoms last?
The symptoms usually begin 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming dairy but they can last for 48 hours until the lactose leaves the body.
What happens if you ignore lactose intolerance?
Ignoring lactose intolerance could lead to several long-term health problems, like weak bones, frequent diarrhoea, malnutrition and fatigue. Other symptoms may include flatulence and chronic abdominal pain.
How do I know if I’m lactose intolerant?
If you experience diarrhoea, flatulence or abdominal cramps after consuming foods containing lactose, like milk, it could mean that your body is unable to digest lactose properly, meaning you’re lactose intolerant.
What can ease pain from lactose intolerance?
Antacid pills can be taken to reduce gas and bloating from lactose intolerance and ease the pain. You can even place a heating pad or a hot water pack on your stomach when you experience any pain.
Adjusting your posture when sitting can also help reduce bloating and gas build-up from lactose intolerance and reduce the pain.
Before trying any of these pain relief methods, consult a gastroenterologist.
What happens if you keep having dairy when you’re lactose intolerant?
While lactose intolerance can cause discomfort for you, it doesn’t mean that you need to give up dairy products completely. Regular dairy products may keep giving you lactose intolerance symptoms but you can manage these by having dairy products with low lactose levels.
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