According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lactose intolerance is the inability of the digestive system to digest the core sugar of a dairy product (milk, cheese, yogurt, milk creams and so on and so forth). This inability is due to the deficiency of lactase, an enzyme in the intestine that can break down the sugar in dairy products.
The prevalence of lactose intolerance ranges from rare to normal. People in the west particularly in Europe have a low percentage of a population that is lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is prevalent among Asians and the most part of original American Indians. Lactose intolerance can be developed. This trait usually emerges during the young adult stage of a human being. However, this trait can pop up almost any point in our lifetime. It can develop at a very young age, teenage years, puberty years, young adult years, mid-30’s, and even those that are beyond 50 can still develop this.
Lactose intolerance is mostly confused with milk allergy, celiac disease, autoimmune disease by gluten and the likes of the preceding terms. Lactose intolerance is different from the rest. The digestive system cannot break down lactose.
The Causes and Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Lactose Intolerance can be inherited through genetics. Some genes might give off a blueprint for the body to have the digestive system rid of the lactase enzyme. The other cause of lactose intolerance is due to trauma or injury that has happened in your intestine. This trauma and injury can be caused by surgery or a disease that has formerly plagued your intestine.
Lactose intolerance can be characterized by bloating, gassy feeling, flatulence, stomach pain, cramping, and dizziness. These symptoms are brought about by bacteria living in your intestine. Since your intestines cannot break down lactose in dairy products, it will try to ferment the lactose instead. The bacteria in your intestine is also a key factor as to why your intestine produces gas. The severity of the symptoms of lactose intolerance depends on one person to another.
Some people can have a deficiency of the lactase enzyme but not develop lactose intolerance over time. This is due to the fact that the low-level lactase enzyme has a threshold for it to be considered as a perpetrator of lactose intolerance.
A compelling case about lactose intolerance amongst babies is published. It says in there that lactose intolerance can indeed develop on babies. If that is the case, how can mothers feed their babies? Lactose intolerance can indeed develop on babies but the symptoms and the effectivity of it do not happen until the baby turns two years of age.
How do Doctors Diagnose Lactose Intolerance
The diagnosis of lactose intolerance is pretty simple and straightforward. Even you yourself can diagnose it. For example, let us say you are having constant bloating and gas pain in your stomach right after eating ice cream or any type of food with dairy on it. This occurrence is not unique, and it always happens every time. Most probably so, you would know that you have a case of lactose intolerance.
Another tip for diagnosing lactose intolerance amongst persons is the method of relieving the person from eating anything dairy for a week and then reintroducing it again for a week. If the person developed some of the telltale signs of lactose intolerance like stomach pain and gassy stomach, then most likely than not, the person has a case of lactose intolerance.
As I have mentioned before, lactose intolerance is quite easy to diagnose. The most challenging part of the lactose intolerance diagnosis is the fact that its symptoms can sometimes overlap with other gastrointestinal disorders. Another accurate test to think about is the hydrogen breath test. This test is quick, simple and cheap. It does not require surgery or any types of procedure and is painless. This by far is the most accurate test that you can undergo in order for you to know whether you are indeed lactose intolerant or not. The knowledge that you are lactose intolerant is quite important if not life-saving. With this knowledge at hand, you can try to tweak a little bit of your diet, mostly avoiding too much dairy.
How Do You Treat Lactose Intolerance
The surest and simplest way of treating lactose intolerance is through avoiding too much dairy products. Being lactose intolerant is a trait you will forever have because it is part of your life’s blueprint (genes). So, avoiding dairy products is as of now, your life’s work. Avoiding dairy though is a bit of a problem since avoiding means saying goodbye to some of the essential nutrients your body needs. There are alternatives though in getting those precious nutrients without having all the troubles of being lactose intolerant.
What you can do is purchase in a drugstore your over the counter drugs that provides and boosts the level of the enzyme lactase in your system. You can take the pill (Lactaid) before you eat a meal that involves dairy products. This tip is relatively hassle-free and helps you manage to veer away from lactose intolerance symptoms while enjoying your favorite lasagna.
Another option that you choose from is the inclusion of probiotics in your diet. There are anecdotes from people that attest to the effectivity of the probiotics in breaking down lactose and them not feeling any tinge of lactose intolerance symptoms. This method is yet to be proven. As of now, the intake of Lactaid is the surest way to avoid lactose intolerance.
The other option is the reconditioning of your intestinal tract. Basically, you will try to condition your intestinal tract to try to develop a system that would make your lactose intolerance symptoms go away. By reintroducing milk in your system in a slow and gradual way, you are teaching your digestive system to muster up the courage to rise above lactose intolerance. This might work for some but this might not work for everyone.