Lactose Intolerance in Women – Symptoms & Treatment

Do you suffer from acute stomach pain, abdominal cramps, gas or even diarrhea around half an hour after consuming milk or any dairy products each time? Then you might be a victim of ‘Lactose Intolerance’.

Here are some important facts about the disorder:

Causes of Lactose Intolerance

At the time of milk or dairy products consumption, our body produces certain enzyme named ‘lactase’. It breaks down the ‘lactose’ present in those foods into glucose and galactose which are smaller, simpler and easy-to-digest sugars. But when our body becomes incapable of producing enough lactase, the digestion of lactose in our body gets interrupted due to lactase deficiency. Again, when our intestines get completely damaged or too weak to digest the lactose in case of gastrointestinal and other intestinal diseases, the undigested lactose reaches large intestine intact where several bacteria produces acids and gases from it by fermentation. In both cases, we suffer from lactose intolerance.

Types of Lactose Intolerance

When it comes to the symptoms and outcomes of lactose intolerance, individuals with different body chemistry may react differently. Based on them, it can be categorized into Mild Lactose Intolerance and Severe Lactose Intolerance. In case of people suffering from ‘mild lactose intolerance’, only the limited intake of dairy products or lactose containing foods is enough. But patients of ‘severe lactose intolerance’ should strictly stay away from foodstuffs that contain lactose as even the slightest trace of lactose can prove risky for them.

However, lactose intolerance can also be divided into two more types – permanent and temporary lactose intolerance. Permanent lactose intolerance cannot be cured and the patients need to fight it all through their lives while the temporary issue can be controlled with the help of various antibiotics.

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Diagnosis of Lactose Intolerance

If you have symptoms of lactose intolerance, you must opt for a hydrogen breath test followed by a regular medical checkup. In hydrogen breath test, the major diagnostic process for the problem, the person going through the symptoms are given certain lactose containing foods or solutions for intake and then asked to blow into a tube in order to take his or her breath sample. If the person is lactose intolerant, then the lactose of the foods or solution consumed by him or her will remain undigested and help form high levels of gas in the body which will eventually emit higher amounts of hydrogen and methane in the breath.

Treatment & Remedies

Generally, lactose intolerance cannot be healed with typical medications and treatments (except antibiotics).  Individuals suffering from the issue should assess the amount of lactase formation in their body as well as its reaction to the problem in order to manage the disorder. Maintaining a food diary helps keep a track of which dairy products you can enjoy and which not. It also let you limit the amount of products you need to, and balance your dietary needs accordingly.

Modifying food habits can also prove extensively helpful in managing lactose intolerance. Certain veg and non-veg foods such as broccoli, turnip greens, kale, almonds, dried fruits, tofu, salmon etc. provides necessary calcium without raising the lactose levels in your body. On the other hand, consuming easy-to-digest dairy products such as yogurt, cheeses, and other lactose-free foodstuffs can also be taken rather than drinking milk directly.

You can also opt for some effective supplements and digestive aids available in the market. These products necessarily contain external lactase enzyme or stimulate the body to increase the internal production of it in order to treat lactose intolerance by digesting lactose efficiently.

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