Lactose intolerance is the inability to break down a type of sugar called lactose. Lactose is commonly found in dairy products such as milk and milk products. Lactose intolerance is caused due to the insufficient production of an intestinal enzyme in the body called lactase. The role of the enzyme lactase is to split lactose into two smaller sugars which are glucose and galactose which can be absorbed in the stomach.
People above the age of 21 years usually develop lactose intolerance. It rarely occurs due to a genetic deficiency. Every person is born with lactase and also has the ability to break down lactose to glucose and galactose or has the ability to digest lactose. It is due to a genetic problem that the person develops this condition after the age of 21 years. When lactose moves through the intestine it causes pain and discomfort.
Most of the people manage lactose intolerance condition without compromising on the intake of dairy products such as milk, yogurt etc.
There are three types of lactose intolerance. They are:
Primary lactose intolerance is the most common type of lactose intolerance. The lactase content in a person decreases with age due to the diverse diet one follows. This is known as primary lactose intolerance.
Secondary lactose intolerance is the reduction of lactase due to the development of various illnesses such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Congenital or developmental lactose intolerance occurs in rare cases as every person is born with good amount of lactase in the body. Infants require lactase to breakdown lactose present in the mother’s milk. Therefore this type of lactose intolerance occurs in rare cases and it is an inherited type of lactose intolerance.
The signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance begin after having food which contains lactose in it. The common signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance are:
The following are the causes of lactose intolerance:
The doctor may suspect lactose intolerance in a person based on the signs and symptoms of the condition. The following are the tests performed to diagnose the condition.
The different ways to avoid or reduce the discomfort faced due to lactose intolerance are:
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