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General Article

Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder whereby the body is unable to breakdown and digest Lactose, the natural sugar found in dairy products. In occurs in people when their bodies are unable to produce enough lactase (needed to digest lactose).

While lactose intolerance is very common worldwide, it is important to seek guidance for it from an Internal medicine doctor in Lahore or your city so that you can deal with the problem effectively.

Symptoms

Signs of lactose intolerance appear about 30 minutes to 2 hours after the intake of foods containing lactose. Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • An urgency to go to the toilet
  • Pain in the lower belly
  • Constipation

Causes

Lactose intolerance is primarily of 3 different types with different causes:

  1. Primary lactose intolerance

This is the most common type of lactose intolerance and is caused by reduced production of lactase overtime.

As children replace milk with other foods in their diet, the amount of lactase they produce usually drops, but remains high enough to digest the amount of dairy in a typical adult diet. In primary lactose intolerance, there is a sharp decline in the production of lactase by adulthood, making milk products difficult to digest.

  1. Secondary lactose intolerance

This form of lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine decreases lactase production post an injury, illness, or surgery involving your small intestine. There are a number of diseases associated with secondary lactose intolerance such as intestinal infection, celiac disease, bacterial overgrowth and Crohn’s disease.

Treatment of the core problem can gradually restore the levels of lactase in the body and improve signs and symptoms.

 

  1. Congenital or developmental lactose intolerance

This type is rare and involves babies being born with lactose intolerance caused by a lack of lactase, by birth. This disorder is passed from generation to generation in a pattern of inheritance known as “autosomal recessive.” This means that for a child to be affected, both the mother and the father must pass on the same gene variant. Premature infants can also have lactose intolerance due to an insufficient level of lactase.

Treatment

 

  1. Enzyme Supplements: Enzymes can help digest lactose. They may be in the form of tablets or drops to be added to food and drinks.
  2. Lactose Exposure: Regularly including lactose in the diet may help the body adapt to it.
  3. Probiotics and Prebiotics: Probiotics are microorganisms with health benefits. Prebiotics are types of fiber that function as food for these bacteria and feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut to them thrive. Both probiotics and prebiotics can help reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance.
  4. Limiting the intake of milk and dairy products
  5. Consuming lactose free products

 

This article can provide you preliminary information about lactose intolerance, its symptoms, causes, and how to control it. However, for a prompt and correct treatment it is absolutely essential that professional help is sought from a good Internal medicine doctor in Karachi or your city.