8 Common Signs and Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Are you experiencing diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, or flatulence after consuming any or some dairy products? If your answer is (Yes), then you may be suffering from lactose intolerance symptoms.
However, do not worry, this condition is not that serious and controllable, moreover, it affects millions of people worldwide due to the lack of lactase enzyme.
In this article, we will share with you great insights about lactose intolerance symptoms, with tips and advices to live with your condition without any impact on your life quality.
Understanding Lactose Intolerance:
The lactose intolerance meaning is best described as the inability to digest lactose that exists in dairy products due to the lack of lactase enzyme.
Therefore, the lactose will remain undigested in the digestive system, causing many lactose intolerance symptoms with various severity depending on the person and his/her tolerance to lactose.
Moreover, the lactose intolerance symptoms typically appear within 30 minutes to two hours after consuming lactose-containing products, thus, you need to observe yourself to know if you need to undergo the test or not.
4 Primary Gastrointestinal Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance:
The primary lactose intolerance symptoms are basically related to the gastrointestinal system.
However, it is important to note that the severity and tolerance to lactose can differ among individuals as some may experience symptoms after consuming just small amounts of lactose, while others may only be affected by larger quantities.
So, if you suspect lactose intolerance, you should consult your doctor and take a lactose intolerance test, to confirm the condition and set the best lactose intolerance treatment strategy.
Some of the common gastrointestinal symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
Diarrhea is one of the basic symptoms of lactose intolerance, because when lactose remains undigested, it attracts water into the intestines, resulting in loose stools.
2. Abdominal pain and cramping:
The presence of undigested lactose in the intestines can lead to the fermentation of lactose by gut bacteria, moreover, this fermentation process produces gas (hydrogen, methane) and various short-chain fatty acids, which can cause abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating.
The excess gas produced during lactose fermentation can result in increased flatulence or excessive passing of gas.
Some individuals with lactose intolerance may experience feelings of nausea or an unsettled stomach after consuming lactose-containing foods.
4 Secondary Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance:
Secondary lactose intolerance symptoms differ from person to person, as they are not universally experienced by all individuals with lactose intolerance.
However, some individuals have reported experiencing the following secondary symptoms, but keep in mind that these symptoms have not been established as true symptoms of lactose intolerance and may have other causes:
Headaches are not a direct symptom of lactose intolerance, but discomfort and stress related to gastrointestinal symptoms can sometimes lead to headaches.
Chronic gastrointestinal symptoms and dietary restrictions can lead to fatigue, as mentioned in the previous response.
3. Muscle and Joint Pain:
Muscle and joint pain are not direct symptoms of lactose intolerance, however, if the condition leads to nutrient deficiencies, it could potentially contribute to such issues.
Eczema is a skin condition, and while it is not a direct symptom of lactose intolerance, some individuals with lactose intolerance may experience skin issues, such as eczema, due to inflammation and immune responses triggered by the condition.
How Long Do Lactose Intolerance Symptoms Last?
It is important to note that the symptoms duration varies from one person to another, as some individuals may experience mild symptoms that last for a few hours only, while others may suffer from prolonged discomfort for several days after consuming lactose.
Thus, it would be a good decision to keep a food diary and note down the duration and severity of your lactose intolerance symptoms to achieve a better understanding of your body’s response to lactose.
Identifying Triggers and Understanding Symptom Patterns:
If you need to determine your lactose intolerance symptoms, then as we said keeping a food diary would be a good choice to discover the cause behind your discomfort.
Then, and based on your food diary and symptoms, you can eliminate lactose-containing products from your diet for some time and then reintroduce them one by one to observe any changes in symptoms.
More than that, paying attention to symptom patterns will provide you with valuable insights to know which dairy products are the highest trigger of your symptoms, furthermore, to know if you have or not lactose intolerance in the first place.
When to Seek Medical Advice?
If you are suffering from lactose intolerance symptoms in adults, then you must ask for medical advice from your family healthcare provider, who would properly request a lactose intolerance test to confirm your lactose condition and guarantee proper diagnosis and management.
Your lactose intolerance test options could include:
- Lactose tolerance test.
- Lactose intolerance breath test.
- Stool acidity test.
- Genetic testing.
If your test is positive, then a curing strategy would be created by your doctor depending on lactose-free or lactose-reduced diets and recommend suitable alternatives to meet your nutritional needs.
Lactose Intolerance Treatment:
While there is no effective cure for lactose intolerance, but the main lactose intolerance treatment includes managing and reducing the symptoms caused by the condition.
Moreover, the most popular strategies that help individuals manage their lactose intake are:
· Dietary Changes:
You can adjust your diet by reducing or eliminating lactose-containing foods and beverages, including milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy products that contain lactose
· Lactase Supplements:
Taking lactase supplements provides the necessary lactase enzyme to aid in the digestion of lactose and can help ease symptoms in some individuals.
· Lactose-Free Products:
There are many lactose-free kinds of dairy products, that are treated with lactase enzymes to break down lactose, making them easier to digest for individuals with lactose intolerance.
· Experimentation with Tolerance Levels:
Some people with lactose intolerance can tolerate small amounts of lactose without experiencing significant symptoms.
Thus, they need to slowly incorporate lactose-containing foods in small quantities and observe individual tolerance levels to identify personal thresholds and reduce symptoms.
To sum up,
Lactose intolerance can be managed effectively with the right monitoring and understanding of the patient’s case.
Moreover, observing the patient’s own tolerance levels and making appropriate dietary adjustments, to help him/her enjoy a wide variety of nutritious and delicious foods with good life quality.
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