Do you feel bad every time you eat any dairy products? This may be because you are lactose intolerant. Being lactose intolerant means that your body can’t fully digest the sugar in the milk. This usually happens when your lactase levels are too low. This condition may not cause any severe problems in your health but you might get some symptoms that you might find uncomfortable. Even though it might be better to avoid dairy products all together, there are options to have the condition and still manage to eat the dairy foods. In the Digestive and Liver Center we encourage our patients to try a healthier diet, and give them alternative foods if you are lactose intolerant.
Types of lactose intolerance
There are three types of the lactose intolerance condition, these are:
Primary lactose intolerance: this is the most common type that usually happens when the level of production of lactase drops and by adulthood you’re not able to digest dairy products well.
Secondary lactose intolerance: this type happens when the production of lactase decreases due to surgery, illness or injury in your small intestine.
Development of lactose intolerance: happens in newborns when they lack lactase, which is passed through mother and father.
What are the symptoms?
If you are lactose intolerant, there are a couple of symptoms that you might get after 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating any dairy products. These symptoms are:
How do doctors diagnose lactose intolerance?
Your doctor would need to ask you about your medical history, family history, eating habits and any symptoms that you might have. Also, the doctor would do a physical exam and other tests to determine if you are lactose intolerant. A couple tests that the doctor might have to do are:
Hydrogen breath test: this test consists of the patient drinking a solution with high levels of lactose. Then your doctor will measure your breath. If you are breathing out too much hydrogen, it means you are not fully digesting the lactose.
Lactose intolerance test: this test consists of the patient drinking a liquid that will measure the levels of glucose in your blood, and if the glucose level doesn’t increase, it means that you aren’t fully digesting the lactose.
How do you treat lactose intolerance?
The easiest way of treating lactose intolerance is to avoid all dairy products. Another way of treating it is to try a lactose free diet for two weeks to help with the symptoms, and then gradually start adding dairy products, to create tolerance. You can start with low lactose products like condensed milk, processed cheese and sour cream.
Maintaining a balanced diet
In order to reduce symptoms and have a healthier lifestyle, it’s crucial to have a balanced diet. For some people that have this condition, it would be better to stay away from lactose foods. Since calcium is an important and necessary source for your body, you can try out other foods with calcium such as spinach, broccoli and dried beans. For more information on what diet to follow or how to deal with the symptoms, our GI Orlando doctors are here to help. Call and make an appointment now at 407-384-7388.