Lactose intolerance is a condition where a person has difficulty digesting lactose. Which is a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. This occurs when the small intestine does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase. Which is responsible for breaking down lactose.
The symptoms can be different from person to person. But common symptoms include bloating, gas, diarrhea and abdominal pain after consuming dairy products.
While it is not dangerous. It can be uncomfortable and can impact a person’s quality of life. However, there are many lactose-free alternatives available for people who are lactose intolerant. such as lactose-free milk, cheese and yogurt as well as non-dairy sources of calcium such as leafy greens, fortified cereals and nuts.
Lactose Intolerant In Babies
Lactose intolerance in babies is rare, but it can occur in some cases. Lactose intolerance in babies can be caused by a number of factors such as premature birth, certain medical conditions or a genetic predisposition.
The symptoms of lactose intolerance in babies can include fussiness, excessive crying, diarrhea, bloating and gas. These symptoms can occur shortly after consuming milk or other dairy products.
If you suspect that your baby may be lactose intolerant. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. In some cases the healthcare professional may recommend switching to a lactose-free formula or a soy-based formula.
Breastfed babies who are lactose intolerant may need to temporarily switch to lactose-free breast milk or a lactose-free diet for the breastfeeding mother. it is also important to consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your baby’s diet.
It is also important to note that lactose intolerance in babies is different from a milk allergy, which is a more severe immune reaction to milk proteins. A healthcare professional can help determine whether your baby has lactose intolerance or a milk allergy.
Lactose Intolerant symptoms In Babies
Lactose intolerance is rare in babies but can occur. The symptoms are:
- Diarrhea: This is the most common symptom of lactose intolerance in babies. The stool may be watery, loose, and acidic.
- Abdominal pain: Babies with lactose intolerance may experience abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating.
- Flatulence: Excessive gas in the digestive tract can cause flatulence, which can be uncomfortable for babies.
- Vomiting: Some babies may vomit after consuming milk or dairy products due to lactose intolerance.
- Failure to thrive: Babies who are unable to digest lactose may have difficulty gaining weight and growing properly.
Causes Of Lactose Intolerant
Lactose intolerance is caused by the body’s inability to produce enough lactase. Which is an enzyme needed to digest lactose a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. When lactose is not properly digested it can cause a range of gastrointestinal symptoms, including bloating, abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea.
Some common causes of lactose intolerance are:
- Genetics: It can be inherited genetically. Some people may be born with a reduced ability to produce lactase, leading to lactose intolerance from a young age.
- Age: Many people lose some of their ability to digest lactose as they get older. This is because the body naturally produces less lactase over time.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and other digestive disorders can cause damage to the small intestine which reduce the body’s ability to produce lactase.
- Medications: Some medications including antibiotics can interfere with lactase production in the body leading to temporary lactose intolerance.
- Illness: Particularly those illness that cause damage to the small intestine, can lead to temporary lactose intolerance until the body heals.
How To Prevent Lactose Intolerant?
Well, it cannot be prevented but there are steps you can take to manage the symptoms and prevent discomfort. Here are some tips for preventing lactose intolerance symptoms:
- Limit or avoid lactose-containing foods: Limiting foods that contain lactose such as milk, cheese and ice cream can help prevent lactose intolerance symptoms.
- Choose lactose-free or low-lactose dairy products: Products such as lactose-free milk and cheese are available for people with lactose intolerance. These products are treated with lactase making them easier to digest.
- Try dairy substitutes: Non-dairy substitutes such as soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk are also available and can be a good option for people with lactose intolerance.
- Take lactase supplements: Supplements, which are available over-the-counter in tablet or liquid form can help people with lactose intolerance digest lactose.
- Gradually increase lactose intake: Some people with lactose intolerance may be able to increase their tolerance for lactose by gradually introducing small amounts of lactose-containing foods into their diet over time.
It’s important to note that lactose intolerance is a lifelong condition and cannot be cured. With proper management, people with lactose intolerance can still enjoy a healthy and balanced diet.
Lactose Intolerant Treatment
While it cannot be cured. There are several treatments available to manage symptoms and allow people with lactose intolerance to enjoy a balanced diet.
- Dietary changes: The most effective way to manage lactose intolerance is by making dietary changes. Avoiding or limiting lactose-containing foods and choosing lactose-free or low-lactose dairy products can help prevent symptoms.
- Lactase supplements: Lactase supplements are available over-the-counter in tablet or liquid form and can be taken before consuming lactose-containing foods to help digest lactose.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to health. They may help improve lactose digestion by increasing the number of lactase-producing bacteria in the gut.
- Enzyme replacement therapy: Enzyme replacement therapy is a medical treatment that involves taking lactase supplements in higher doses to help digest lactose.
- Medications: In some cases, medications such as simethicone or loperamide may be prescribed to manage specific symptoms of lactose intolerance such as gas or diarrhea.
It’s important to speak with a healthcare provider before starting any treatment for lactose intolerance, as they can help determine the best course of action based on individual needs and medical history.
Is Lactose Intolerant Life Threatening
No, it is not a life-threatening condition. It is a digestive disorder that causes discomfort and symptoms such as bloating, gas and diarrhea when lactose-containing foods are consumed. While these symptoms can be uncomfortable they are not typically life-threatening.
In rare cases, severe lactose intolerance symptoms can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. This is more likely to occur in infants and young children who may not be receiving adequate nutrition. If you suspect that you or your child may have severe lactose intolerance symptoms such as severe diarrhea, vomiting or dehydration. It is important to seek medical attention immediately.
It’s important to note that lactose intolerance is not the same as a milk allergy. Which can be a life-threatening condition in some cases. A milk allergy is an immune system response to milk proteins and can cause symptoms such as hives, difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis which can be life-threatening.
Lactose intolerance is a common digestive disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is caused by the body’s inability to produce enough lactase an enzyme needed to digest lactose a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products.
While lactose intolerance cannot be cured. It can be effectively managed through dietary changes, lactase supplements, probiotics, enzyme replacement therapy and medications. With proper management people with lactose intolerance can still enjoy a healthy, balanced diet.
It’s important to note that lactose intolerance is not the same as a milk allergy. which is an immune system response to milk proteins and can be a life-threatening condition in some cases. If you suspect that you or your child may have severe lactose intolerance symptoms or if you have any concerns about your health it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider.