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.
Adults suffer most from lactose intolerance especially in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and the Americas. Approximately 20 million individuals from America who are 20 years old and above suffer from lactose intolerance. Although it is unlikable, lactose intolerance is not a severe condition.
After thirty minutes to two hours of consuming dairy, lactose intolerance normally leads to gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, bloating and gas. Individuals suffering from lactose intolerance may take drugs that have lactase, before consuming dairy or to avoid dairy consumption.
Forms of lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance has three main forms and each has a distinct cause.
Primary lactose intolerance
This kind of lactose intolerance is the most widespread.
Many individuals have sufficient lactase at the time they are born. To be able to digest breast milk, infants require the lactase enzyme. With time, the quantity of lactase an individual generates goes down. The reason for this is that people’s diets becomes diverse and depends less on dairy as they continue to age.
The lactase reduction is normally slow and particular regions of the world are more susceptible to lactose intolerance than others.
Secondary lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance can also be as a result of surgery, celiac disorder, injury of the small intestines, or a inflammatory bowel disorder. If the main condition is properly treated, you may regain your lactase levels.
Congenital lactose intolerance
Although it is not very common, you may inherit lactose intolerance. A child can inherit a malfunctioning gene from the parents and this can lead to the total lack of lactase production.
Babies born in these cases are not tolerant of milk. Once breast milk or formula that has lactose is given to the baby, diarrhea will occur. This condition can be fatal if it is not diagnosed and cured early on. There can be loss of electrolytes or dehydration as a result of diarrhea. Introducing formula without lactose will simply cure this condition.
Developmental lactose intolerance
When an infant is born premature, this rare type of lactase intolerance can occur. The reason for this is because babies start generating lactase when the pregnancy nears its end.
Lactose intolerance symptoms
These symptoms can either be severe or mild. They include:
- Cramps in the abdomen
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. 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.
- Adults suffer most from lactose intolerance especially in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and the Americas
- Lactose intolerance can also be a result of surgery, celiac disorder, injury of the small intestines, or inflammatory bowel disorder
- There is no method to make the body generate extra lactase