What Is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance affects individuals who are unable to absorb lactose in milk and other dairy products. It is caused by low levels of lactase, which is an enzyme made in the small intestine. Lactase helps turn milk into two sugars (glucose and galactose) to be carried into the bloodstream from the intestine. A lactase deficiency makes it difficult for your body to break down lactose, so food is moved to the colon instead of being digested and absorbed into the body.
There are three types of lactose intolerance:
- Primary lactose intolerance – Lactase production declines in all adults over time, but in some, the decline is sharp and leads to problems digesting lactose.
- Secondary lactose intolerance – An illness, injury or surgery to the small intestine can impact the production of lactase and lead to lactose intolerance.
- Congenital or development lactose intolerance – Some individuals are born with a lactose intolerance, which is often passed from both parents.
Lactose intolerance can lead to uncomfortable, and sometimes embarrassing, symptoms roughly 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods with lactose. Symptoms may include:
If you think you have lactose intolerance, contact a gastroenterologist. A specialist will work closely with you to discuss your symptoms, confirm a lactose intolerance and create a treatment plan to help you better manage your symptoms. Treatment usually includes avoiding foods and drinks with lactose.
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If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of lactose intolerance, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
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