What Is Lactose-Intolerance, Symptoms, Types & Treatment

image source: Pixabay

According to the NIH, 65% of people around the world – that’s 30 to 50 million people in the United States alone – have a hard time digesting lactose beyond infancy. The incapacity to break down lactose which is a natural type of sugar is known as lactose intolerance. Mostly, lactose is available in milk products like yogurt and dairy. You will become lactose intolerant if your small intestines seize to generate sufficient lactase enzyme needed to break down and digest the lactose. The lactose which has not been digested goes to the colon when this occurs. It then interacts with the bacteria found in the colon and results in symptoms like diarrhea, bloating and gas. Lactase deficiency is another term used for lactose intolerance.

Some people also have a true allergy to the proteins in milk, including the protein casein. While some people will use the terms allergy, sensitivity, and intolerance interchangeably, allergy and lactose intolerance are quite different. An allergy is when the body’s immune system sees a substance – milk protein in this case – as a foreign invader, or allergen, and then the body produces antibodies in response. The allergic reaction can range from mild — itching, red skin — to severe, causing an inability to breathe due to swelling in the throat, or even anaphylactic shock. Fortunately, there are far fewer milk allergies compared with lactose-intolerance – 2-3% of the population in the developed world, though that still makes it the most common food allergy among kids.

In contrast, people with lactose-intolerance do not produce adequate lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, which is the sugar in milk. People who are lactose-intolerant experience different symptoms from people with a milk allergy.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

The symptoms of lactose intolerance typically occur between 30 minutes and two hours after eating or drinking a milk or dairy product, and may include:

→ abdominal cramps
→ bloating
→ gas
→ diarrhea
→ nausea

The symptoms can range from mild to severe. The severity depends on how much lactose was consumed and how much lactase the person has actually made.

Types of Lactose Intolerance

1. Primary Lactose Intolerance (Normal Result of Aging)

This is the most common type of lactose intolerance. Most people are born with enough lactase. Babies need the enzyme in order to digest their mother’s milk. The amount of lactase a person makes may decrease over time. This is because as people age, they eat a more diverse diet and rely less on milk. The decline in lactase is gradual. This type of lactose intolerance is more common in people with Asian, African, Native American, or Mediterranean ancestry.

2. Secondary Lactose Intolerance (Due to Illness or Injury)

Secondary lactose intolerance happens because of an injury, illness or possibly a surgery. Any of these can affect your small intestine and cause you to make less lactase. Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease are two of the most common intestinal diseases linked to low lactase.

3. Developmental Lactose Intolerance

This type of lactose intolerance happens in babies who are born prematurely. It usually goes away on its own, lasting for only a short time after birth.

4. Congenital Lactose Intolerance

Congenital lactose intolerance is an extremely rare inherited disorder, in which the small intestine produces little to no lactase from birth. It’s caused by a mutation of the LCT gene, which provides instructions for making lactase. You can only be born with this disorder if both of your parents pass the mutated gene on to you. Lactose intolerance isn’t always related to genetics, however.

Treatment of Lactose Intolerance

There is no method to make the body generate extra lactase. Lactose intolerance is treated by either cutting dairy or lowering the amount you consume. Dairy products that do not contain lactose can be purchased at many supermarkets. You can still consume certain hard cheeses like Swiss, cheddar, and parmesan. A yogurt is also a good option. You can buy lactase enzymes in form of drops, capsules, and pills and consume them before taking dairy. The drops are then added to milk.

Sources & References:
www.webmd.com
www.healthline.com
www.everydayhealth.com
www.findatopdoc.com

Healthy Food MasterGeneral Healthdiarrhea,lactose,lactose-intolerance
image source: Pixabay According to the NIH, 65% of people around the world – that’s 30 to 50 million people in the United States alone – have a hard time digesting lactose beyond infancy. The incapacity to break down lactose which is a natural type of sugar is known as...
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