Lactose Intolerance

Ageless Regenerative Medical -  - Regenerative Medicine Specialist

Ageless Regenerative Medical

Regenerative Medicine Specialists & Anti-Aging located in Nashville, TN

Lactose Intolerance Q & A

Lactose intolerance often runs in families (hereditary). In these cases, over time a person's body may make less of the lactase enzyme. Symptoms may start during the teen or adult years. In some cases, the small intestine stops making lactase after an injury or after a disease or infection.

If you experience symptoms after consuming food that contains lactose, a sugar included in dairy products, such as stomach ache, you may have lactose intolerance. The symptoms can be avoided by consuming fewer servings of lactose-containing foods or avoiding them entirely.

According to estimates, 36% of Americans and 68% of the world's population are lactose intolerant to some extent.

What is lactose intolerance?

When your body cannot digest or break down lactose, you have lactose intolerance. A sugar called lactose can be found in milk and milk products.

When your small intestine does not produce enough of the digesting enzyme lactase, it results in lactose intolerance. Foods include lactose, which lactase breaks down so that your body can absorb it.

Lactose-intolerant individuals experience unpleasant sensations after consuming milk or milk products. Gas, diarrhea, and bloating are some of these symptoms.

Most lactose-intolerant people can manage their condition without avoiding all dairy products. A milk allergy is distinct from lactose intolerance. A state of the immune system is a milk allergy.

Causes of lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance can be experienced at any age for men or women, which can also result from –

  • conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and Celiac disease
  • bowel infections
  • bowel surgery
  • an injury to the bowel

Because of insufficient intestinal development, some premature babies cannot digest lactose, but this typically improves as babies age. Although it happens very seldomly, some people do not produce any lactose.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance

From minor pain to severe sensitivity, symptoms can vary. This depends on how much lactose the body produces and how much lactose the person consumes.

The symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloating
  • Belching
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Nausea

After ingesting lactose, the person may experience a sudden urge to go to the bathroom for up to two hours.

What are the risk factors of lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance may be more common in some persons. Watch out for the following risk factors:

  • Increasing age: Lactose intolerance typically develops as adults. When it comes to infants and young children, the condition is rare.
  • Ethnicity: Most people with lactose intolerance are of African, Asian, Hispanic, or American Indian descent.
  • Premature birth: Because the small intestine is smaller in preterm babies, their lactose levels may be lower.
  • Diseases affecting the small intestine: Among the minor intestinal conditions leading to lactose intolerance are Celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and bacterial overgrowth.
  • Specific cancer treatments: Your likelihood of acquiring lactose intolerance increases if you've undergone radiation treatment for stomach cancer or have experienced intestinal side effects from chemotherapy.

When does lactose intolerance become chronic?

Lactose intolerance often gets worse as you age and your body loses the ability to produce lactase. However, the severity of symptoms is usually relative to the amount of lactose you consume and is also dependent on genetic predisposition.

If you do experience chronic or worsening lactose intolerance symptoms, consult your physician and go over your diet. Unpleasant symptoms can sometimes occur but can be managed with various treatments and diet changes. At Regenerative Medical Group (RMG), we feel it is important for patients to be tested to receive proper diagnosis and care. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call 615-678-7784.