When your body fails to digest lactose or milk grouped foods completely or partially is known as lactose intolerance. There are many enzymes in the human body that helps to digest foods. Some enzymes do not react to lactose food group and as a result the patient develops different disease related to lactose intolerance and also known as lactose deficiency or milk intolerance. Lactose is actually a type of sugar. Glucose or sugar is the main source of energy and the food we eat enters into our cells as glucose automatically. The sources of glucose are not atypical, they’re just our regular food intake, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, grain, rice, milk and dairy products. Lactose sugar is generally found in milk or dairy products. This sugar found in milk or milk products is called lactose. An enzyme named lactase generally digests lactose sugar. The cells lining the small intestine produce this lactase enzyme. Sometimes human bodies lacks sufficient amount of lactase or lactase is absent. According to studies, 75 percent of adults shown the signs of lactase decrease in adulthood. If you have lactose intolerance some gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, vomiting and other complications developed instantly.
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is an inability to digest lactose because of the insufficiency or absence of lactase enzyme. Lactose is a big sugar molecule formed with two smaller sugars named glucose and glactose. The lactase enzyme splits lactose into glucose and glactose and then, the cells lining the small intestine absorbs and digests glucose and glactose easily. There are many reasons for the cells lining the small intestine cannot generate enough lactase enzymes to digest milk or dairy products. For example, some are stomach flu and cystic fibrosis. Stomach flu is a short term illness and cystic fibrosis is a lifelong illness. Some surgeries can reduce the activity of the small intestine. In case of surgery, lactose intolerance may be permanent. Besides, congenital, secondary or developmental reasons may cause lactose intolerance.
Causes of lactose intolerance
There are different types of lactose deficiency and mainly four types of lactose deficiency can be blamable intolerance are:
- Temporary or developmental lactase deficiency: This type of lactose intolerance is seen in the case of premature birth of infants and this deficiency sustains a very small period and disappears soon.
- Lactase non-persistence or primary lactase deficiency: The most common type of lactose intolerance that can be developed from the childhood or even some people got this deficiency from inheriting genes. Lactase deficient child may not feel the effects of lactose intolerance up to adulthood, although the lactose intolerance process can begin from the years of 2 and continue to late adulthood.
- Secondary lactase deficiency: If anyone gets injured in the small intestine or any types of disease or disorder that can injure the small intestine can result lactose intolerance. Identification and proper treatment can improve the condition.
- Congenital lactase deficiency: An uncommon form of lactose intolerance is inherited from parents. It is extremely rare and in this case the small intestine produces little or no lactase enzyme from birth.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance
The symptoms of lactose intolerance may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Swelling or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
Symptoms occur 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming milk or milk products. Symptoms range from mild to severe based on the amount of milk or dairy products the person drink and the amount a person can tolerate. More, symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Lactose intolerance vs. milk allergy
The persons who have lactose intolerance can drink milk or intake dairy products in small amount by consulting with a doctor. Some people get confused with lactose intolerance and milk allergy, but these two things are different. Milk allergy is an immune system dysfunction. The immune system identifies the protein in milk or milk products as harmful invaders and release antibody named immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies into the patient’s bloodstream and histamine is released. However, the symptoms of these two diseases are the same. So, people get confused. Milk allergy may cause life threatening symptoms. However, lactose intolerance does not cause life threatening symptoms.
Lactose intolerance test and diagnosis
When you’ll visit a doctor for lactose sensitivity, at first he will change your regular lactose intake in your daily diet and will observe the reaction. Following tests are usually done for the detection of lactose intolerance, also you may need to conduct more than one test:
- Hydrogen breath test: In this test, the patient required to drink a certain liquid that contains high level of lactose and then the doctor measure the amount of hydrogen in the patient breath at regular intervals. If you have lactose intolerance, you will exhale larger amount of hydrogen than the normal breathing process.
- Lactose tolerance test: Similar to hydrogen breath test, by performing the lactose tolerance test, the doctor measures the reaction of your body after taking a high level lactose drink. Two hours After drinking the certain amount of lactose drink, the doctor will test your blood stream, to gauge the amount of glucose in your blood stream. If your glucose level doesn’t rise. That clearly indicates your body is not reacting properly to the lactose and failed to digest or absorb the lactose drink.
- Stool acidity test: To measure the level of lactose intolerance in children or infants, those who can’t go through typical tests may need to perform a stool acidity test. If the infant is unable to digest lactose then the fermenting of lactose develop lactic acid and some other acids, a stool acidity test can detect the acid from the patient’s stool sample.
Lactose intolerance treatment
It may be hard for you, but no treatments are invented yet to cure lactose intolerance. When a doctor detects lack of the lactase enzyme in your body, may suggest to cut the amount of lactose you’re currently taking from your daily diet. People who avoid lactose products see significant changes of their conditions immediately.
Lactose intolerance is less common in infant or babies and mostly seen in adults. However, the person who is born with lactose intolerance, can never consume milk or lactose contained products. Some premature babies or infants cannot digest lactose because their digestive system still unable to digest lactose. But gradually they outgrow lactose intolerance. People of USA, Asia, Africa and South America are more likely to suffer from lactose intolerance and less common in the Europeans.