What is so special about health condition known as lactose intolerance? Why does it make millions of people feel frustrated and uncomfortable? Milk (lactose) intolerance is the inability of human body to digest lactose, which is contained in dairy products. It develops when there is a deficiency of a special enzyme (lactase) responsible for this process in the gastrointestinal tract. This enzyme makes lactose breakdown on time. Undigested milk sugar passes into the colon and causes abnormal gas production there. As a result, people suffer from bad breath, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal problems.
This condition can affect individuals of all ages. Moreover, it can develop at any age under the influence of certain factors, such as injuries of the small intestine that result from chemotherapy, perpetual diarrhea, Crohn’s or Celiac disease, bowel surgeries, intake of antibiotics etc. There are studies, however, which show that some people are genetically predisposed to becoming lactose intolerant. In this case, they develop the symptoms of this disease since childhood.
Milk intolerance can be of three types. Thus, doctors differentiate between primary, secondary and congenital forms of this disorder. Primary lactose intolerance is observed when the patient’s body suffers from the reduction of lactase production in the intestine. This condition, by the way, is frequently observed in people who belong to certain ethnic groups that do not consume milk at all. According to recent studies, it has been discovered that around 70% of adult population suffer from this problem. Sometimes, however, this form of the disease develops with age. If you have been diagnosed with the secondary from of this condition, it means that the disorder has developed after a particular illness you have recently experienced. Congenital intolerance of milk products is hereditary and the first symptoms of it are observed in babies.
Is it possible to manage this problem effectively? Luckily, it is. Milk intolerance is successfully treated by means of choosing a proper diet devoid of lactose. In case the diet is chosen properly, a patient will soon observe the reduction or complete resolution of symptoms that have bothered him/her for a long time. As far as dairy products contain calcium, it is of paramount importance to include products that contain this component into your diet. Thus, you will not go without calcium-fortified milk that comes without lactose, soy milk, juices rich in calcium etc.
Some people, however, can tolerate lactose in small amounts and are recommended to take a lactase enzyme in drops or tablets when consuming lactose-rich products, including milk, breakfast cereals, margarine, pastries, bread, soups, certain drinks and salad dressings, snacks etc.
If you develop severe health reactions to foods containing lactose, then you should obligatory consult your health care provider and undergo a series of tests that will help choose a more appropriate method of treatment. Your diet, though, will be stricter in this case, so you will need to take extra dietary supplements and vitamins to avoid undesired health complications. Do not alter your diet yourself. Just take your time to find out more about this problem and the most effective solutions to it.