Lactose intolerance is the condition when the digestive system is unable to produce lactase, a digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose. Owing to the lack of lactase production, one may experience digestive discomfort.
Undigested lactose stagnates in the intestines and causes water retention. As a result, the large molecules of lactose break down in the colon, causing cramping, diarrhoea and gas.
The following are the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
The severity of the symptoms depends on the amount of lactose an individual can tolerate, including the amount of lactose ingested and the size and fat content of the meal. Those with irritable bowel syndrome tend to have more severe symptoms from lactose intolerance.
Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed by a health care provider or through an elimination diet. You doctor may do blood, breath or stool test to diagnose if you have lactose intolerance or having digestive problems because of it.
Lactose intolerance is not a serious condition, and you can reverse it with dietary changes. You can eat less food with lactose, or pills that help reduce lactose. If on an elimination diet, you may need to take calcium supplements, since milk and dairy products, which are the most common source of calcium, are not permitted.
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