Humans are one of the few species that continue drinking milk beyond infancy. As a result, lactose intolerance, or an inability to digest milk products, can occur. Most adults exhibit some symptoms of lactose intolerance by adulthood, including bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance in babies can be present as early as birth. Bloating, abdominal pain, fussiness, diarrhea, and inconsolable crying are some symptoms babies can exhibit. This condition can lead to dehydration, poor weight gain, weakness, and slow growth if not treated promptly. When these symptoms are present, mothers are typically encouraged too feed their babies breast milk, soy milk, or another alternative to dairy milk.
Though some medications and intestinal illnesses can cause lactose intolerance, many human bodies are simply unable to digest lactose as adults. Globally, 75 percent of the adult population suffers from at least some signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance. When they occur, these symptoms may flare up between 30 minutes to two hours following the digestion of lactose-containing products.
Depending on the individual's ability to digest lactose, symptoms can be mild to severe. Some symptoms of lactose intolerance in adults may include abdominal cramps, nausea, bloating, gas, headaches, or diarrhea. People with lactose intolerance often hear a gurgling, or rumbling, noise in their abdominal regions after consuming lactose-containing products. Some less common symptoms, such as loose, foamy stools or vomiting, can also occur.
Lactose intolerance symptoms may occur after eating food stuffs that do not appear to be dairy products. This is due to the fact that lactose is an ingredient in many non-dairy foods. These foods may include potato chips, salad dressings, mayonnaise, processed meats, dessert toppings, and other products.
No cure for lactose intolerance exists. Many treatment options and alternatives, however, are available. Foods such as ice cream, milk, cheese, and other dairy favorites are now accessible to people with lactose intolerance through ingredients such as soy, almonds, and rice.
Dietary supplements are also available for people who wish to continue eating dairy products. These lactase supplements aid the body in digesting lactose. Some reduced lactose products, which contain only small amounts of the sugar, are also on the market for people with lactose intolerance.
People who show signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance should consult with a physician. A dairy allergy, which features many of the same signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance, may be present instead. Children,and babies in particular, should be diagnosed as soon as possible to prevent any nutritional deficiencies. A doctor or nutritionist can help families with lactose intolerant members develop healthy eating plans.