Common Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is one of the most common types of food intolerances. Many people lack enough of the enzyme known as lactase, which is essential for properly digesting dairy products. Lactase deficiency is very common in adults. In most cases, babies produce enough of this enzyme so that their bodies are able to digest breast milk. However, as many of us age, the small intestine stops producing sufficient amounts of lactase. This is why so many people begin to notice intolerance to dairy products past a certain age.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- Abdominal pain (cramps)
- Abdominal bloating
Children who exhibit signs of lactose intolerance may also experience slower growth and insufficient weight gain. If you or your child show signs of intolerance to dairy products, it is important to talk with your doctor right away. In some cases, relatively minor symptoms can develop into more serious symptoms. For a small percentage of people, true allergies to dairy products can lead to life-threatening symptoms.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, an intolerance to lactose is more common among individuals of African, Asian, Mediterranean, or Native American descent than among people with northern or western European ancestry. However, lactose intolerance has been increasingly diagnosed in people of all races over the years.
If you exhibit symptoms of lactose intolerance, visit your doctor for an effective treatment plan. Many people find relief by avoiding dairy products altogether. While it will be easy to identify dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream, it is also important to learn about less obvious dairy ingredients such as casein and whey protein. Dietary calcium can be replaced with such foods as leafy greens, salmon, oysters, broccoli, and sardines. Calcium-fortified orange juice and calcium supplements will also ensure that you get enough calcium in your daily diet.
If you have questions about lactose intolerance contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a dietitian and nutritionist.