What is lactose intolerance?
With lactose intolerance people aren't capable of processing dairy products. This sensitivity to dairy products is quite common in non-Caucasian people, especially in Asians. At a young age lactose intolerance often subsides on its own, at a later age this rarely happens. Usually people with lactose intolerance don't experience any complaints when they stop using dairy products.
What are symptoms of lactose intolerance?
- After the intake of dairy:
Is lactose intolerance serious and should I see a doctor?
Lactose intolerance is very bothersome, but usually not serious. As long as you avoid dairy products, there are virtually no symptoms. When the symptoms change, it can be important to contact a doctor.
Immediately contact a doctor when:
- You have blood in the stool
- You're vomiting blood
- You've haven't urinated for over 12 hours
- You're pregnant and have abdominal pain
- You experience pain radiating towards the chest and shoulders
- You have abdominal pain that gets worse
What can I do about lactose intolerance myself?
- Don't use any dairy products, such as:
- Cow milk
- Cheese made from cow milk
- Ice cream
- Whipped cream
- Certain drugs
- Certain kinds of toothpaste
- Everything that contains cow milk or cream
- Use substitutes like soy milk or (in some cases) goat milk
How does lactose intolerance affect my body?
Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency in the enzyme 'lactase'. This enzyme breaks down lactose, a milk protein, for it to be able to be digested. When it doesn't get broken down, it can severely irritate the intestines, which causes symptoms like diarrhea, cramps and flatulence.
Lactose intolerance is not an allergy, but a different kind of hypersensitivity. This means drugs that usually work for allergies won't be effective with lactose intolerance. Avoiding dairy products is extremely effective in treating the symptoms of lactose intolerance.