Lactose intolerance: what you need to know

Many people complain about poorly digested milk, and consuming this product, or even one of its many by-products, causes bloating, indigestion, diarrhea or constipation. These people who complain about these inconveniences may not unconsciously tolerate lactose.

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose is a sugar contained in milk, and to digest this sugar in the human digestive tract, lactase is produced, which is a specific enzyme specializing in the digestion and absorption of this sugar.

The levels of lactase in the body of normal people are sufficient to digest and assimilate lactose, but with age, this level of enzymes gradually decreases. For most people, this decline is slow and not really felt, but for some people the lactase level drops very quickly, making it difficult or impossible to digest lactose.

Lactose intolerance is diagnosed by a doctor simply by counting

patient symptoms. But in case of doubt, the doctor may do a lactose test, which involves the patient taking some milk or lactose, then measuring lactose (or lactase) to detect a possible deficiency of this enzyme.

Lactose intolerance is not common, and people from Africa, India and the Middle East are likely to develop it.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance should not be confused with lactose allergy. An allergy is an exaggerated immune response to a substance to which it is already sensitized, strong allergic reactions, start quickly and are considered true diseases, and lactose intolerance is only a poor absorption of this sugar and is not a real disease.

Lactose intolerance is characterized by some symptoms that appear several hours after ingestion of milk or dairy products, such as fresh cheese, soft cheese, butter or cream.

These symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea or constipation, vomiting, and bloating.

The lactose reaction can vary greatly from person to person, so it can be very important for some people and benign for others.

Lactose intolerance treatment

After installation, lactose intolerance becomes final and incurable, but, fortunately, those who are affected can live with this intolerance without particular inconvenience thanks to the many existing solutions.

The first solution is to limit the consumption of fresh milk and dairy products rich in lactose. There are low-fat foods, lactose, and others that naturally contain small amounts, such as pasta or yogurt with active snacks.

Limiting the consumption of milk and dairy products can lead to a deficiency, the doctor may prescribe supplements containing calcium, vitamin D and probiotics.

Recently, lactase tablets have appeared in pharmacies, they compensate for the deficiency of this enzyme and, therefore, can continue to consume milk and fresh dairy products, without suffering the consequences.