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Lactose Intolerance Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

by Gulam Moin

Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder in which the body is unable to properly digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. It occurs when the small intestine doesn’t produce enough of an enzyme called lactase, which is needed to break down lactose. Here’s an overview of lactose intolerance, its causes, symptoms, and treatment:

Causes

The primary cause of lactose intolerance is a deficiency of the enzyme lactase. This deficiency can be due to various factors, including:

  • Genetics: In some cases, lactose intolerance is inherited, and individuals are more likely to develop it if their parents are lactose intolerant.
  • Age: Many people naturally produce less lactase as they get older, which can lead to lactose intolerance.
  • Illness or Injury: Certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or injuries to the small intestine, can reduce lactase production.

Symptoms

Lactose intolerance can cause a range of digestive symptoms, which typically occur within a few hours after consuming lactose-containing foods or beverages. Common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps or pain
  • Nausea

The severity of symptoms can vary from person to person and may depend on the amount of lactose consumed. For further help refer to a Best Gastroenterologist in Lahore.

Treatment:

Lactose intolerance can be managed effectively by making dietary adjustments and, in some cases, using lactase supplements. Here are some treatment options:

Dietary Modifications:

  • Limit or Avoid Lactose: Reduce or eliminate foods and drinks that contain lactose, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
  • Choose Lactose-Free Products: Many lactose-free dairy products are available, which have had the lactase enzyme added, making them easier to digest.
  • Lactose-Reduced Products: Some individuals with lactose intolerance can tolerate small amounts of lactose. Lactose-reduced dairy products are available and may be better tolerated in moderation.

Lactase Supplements:

  • Over-the-counter lactase supplements are available in the form of tablets or drops. These supplements can be taken before consuming dairy products to help the body digest lactose more effectively.

Non-Dairy Alternatives:

  • Substitute dairy products with lactose-free or non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, or lactose-free cheese.
  • Gradual Introduction: Some people with lactose intolerance may gradually reintroduce small amounts of dairy into their diet to assess their tolerance levels.

It’s important to note that lactose intolerance is different from a milk allergy. Lactose intolerance is a digestive issue, whereas a milk allergy is an immune system response to proteins in milk and can lead to more severe allergic reactions.

If you suspect you have lactose intolerance, it’s advisable to consult with a Best Gastroenterologist in Rawalpindi or a registered dietitian to receive a proper diagnosis and guidance on managing your dietary choices. The right approach can help you enjoy a healthy, symptom-free diet while avoiding lactose-containing foods that cause discomfort.

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