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Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS

Lactose Intolerance

Overview
Symptoms
Risk Factors
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Lactose intolerance or milk intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the predominant sugar of milk. This inability results from a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is normally produced by the cells that line the small intestine. Lactase breaks down milk sugar into simpler forms that can then be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Intolerance to food is not the same as a food allergy. Lactose intolerance does not involve the immune system and does not necessarily require complete avoidance of milk products.

Symptoms
  • Abdominal cramps or distention
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
Risk Factors

What causes lactose intolerance?

  • Most cases of lactose deficiency results from an inherent lack of enzyme lactase that develop over a period of many years. Digestive diseases or injuries to the small intestine can reduce the amount of enzymes produced, and is the usual cause of lactose intolerance in young children.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
  • Sip small servings of milk - 8 ounces or less. The smaller the serving, the less likely it is to cause digestive problems.
  • Save milk for mealtimes. This slows the digestive process, reducing the chance of experiencing lactose intolerance.
  • Experiment with an assortment of dairy products. Not all dairy products have the same amount of lactose.
  • Watch out for hidden lactose. Although milk and foods made from milk are the only natural sources of lactose, this sugar is often added to prepared foods, such as cereal, instant soups, salad dressings, milk chocolate and baking mixes. Many medicines contain lactose, but they typically affect only people with severe lactose intolerance.
  • Seek out other sources of calcium. Broccoli, leafy greens, canned salmon, almonds, oranges or certain kinds of tofu and soy milk are rich in calcium.
Home Remedies
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