How to identify lactose intolerance?

Bloating tummy, headaches, diarrhea, pimples on your face and impaired memory? If you notice these symptoms after eating dairy products, it is likely that your body does not tolerate lactose (milk sugar). Many people have this problem nowadays.  Lactose tolerant people have a gene predisposing that their bodies produce enough of lactase enzyme, which breaks milk sugar. Lactose intolerant people do not have this gene.

Lactose intolerance (hypolactasia) occurs when the intestines are unable to break down milk products due to various reasons and this can result in various symptoms: abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, etc. Lactose intolerance is less common among children than among adults. This is explained by the fact that this disorder is usually acquired rather than innated, because new born babies already have lactase in their small intestines. Over time the amount of it begins to decline. It sometimes happens that a child who has tolerated lactose before, has suddenly starts to not tolerate it.  It is most common among those who had a viral infection or bacterial intestinal infection.

Usually small intestine produces an enzyme called lactase, which degrades lactose into glucose and galactose, which gets inside the body through the intestinal walls. If there is not enough lactase, the undissociated lactose reaches large intestine, and then intestinal bacteria starts breaking it. This produces acids and gases, which cause discomfort. Hypolactasia is prevalent throughout the world, especially in Africa and Asia.

In order to determine hypolactasia, you have to do a special blood test, in some cases you may need to do biopsy of small intestine and in very rare occasions – a genetic test. However, often this disorder may be suspected simply by asking the man how he tolerates any milk or milk products (cream, cottage cheese, sour cream, ice cream etc.).

If you have the following symptoms, you may also suspect lactose intolerance:

  • Abdominal bloating, gurgling, pain.
  • Nausea for no apparent reason.
  • Short-term memory loss.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Fatigue for no reason.
  • Allergic rashes.
  • Mouth ulcers.
  • Heart rhythm disorder.
  • Increased urination.

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