Lactose intolerance is a condition in which there is deficiency of the enzyme lactase. Lactose is the main sugar in milk and milk products. People with lactose intolerance are unable to digest lactose in milk and other dairy products. The absence or lack of the lactase enzyme, produced by the intestinal lining, is responsible for this intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a common problem. People suffering from this intolerance are called lactose intolerant. Even if they need to avoid milk products, they must supplement their vitamin D and calcium requirement through another food source.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Symptoms of lactose intolerance vary from mild to severe. These symptoms begin 30 minutes to two hours after consuming foods containing milk. Low levels of lactase enzyme in the body cause the symptoms of this intolerance. Avoiding dairy products can help in controlling symptoms in the intolerant persons. Some associated symptoms are as follows:
- Abdominal cramps
Some risk factors may cause this intolerance. These include age, premature birth, ethnicity, cancer treatments, and diseases that affect the small intestine.
Lactose intolerant persons should visit the doctor on experiencing any symptoms of lactose intolerance. Symptoms may usually appear after consuming foods or drinks that contain lactose. Based on the symptoms experienced by lactose intolerant people, the doctor may detect the problem. To confirm symptoms, a diagnostic test may follow. Tests to determine this intolerance include the hydrogen breath test, lactose tolerance test, and the stool acidity test.
Hydrogen breath test involves consuming a drink containing a high amount of lactose. Thereafter, a breath test is conducted to detect the amount of hydrogen released in the air breathed out. A larger amount of hydrogen in the breath of the lactose intolerant person can confirm the intolerance towards lactose.
The lactose test involves measuring the glucose level in the bloodstream two hours after consumption of a drink containing high levels of lactose. A blood test is performed to determine the amount of glucose. If the glucose level does not rise in the blood, it is considered to confirm the disease.
Stool acidity test is meant for infants and small children. Lactic acid is produced after the fermentation of undigested lactose. The presence of lactic acid created due to undigested lactose in the stool confirms that the child may be suffering from intolerance.
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