by The Welthi Bureau 28th May, 2019
If you’re experiencing abdominal discomfort, bloating and a number of other symptoms after drinking milk or eating cheese or other dairy products, you might be suffering from Lactose Intolerance.
Lactose is a type of sugar that is found naturally in the milk of most mammals, and those whose bodies find it hard to digest lactose, are termed Lactose Intolerant. This malady is characterised by abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea, all of which are the result of the body’s inability to absorb lactose.
Lactose Intolerance causes Diarrhoea by increasing the volume of water in the colon, which in turn increases the volume and liquid content of the stools. It occurs when undigested lactose ferments in the colon, producing short-chain fatty acids that increase the amount of water in the gut.
Flatulence (Gas) :
The fermentation of lactose in the colon increases the production of the gases hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. In fact, in those who are Lactose Intolerant, the colon microflora become adept at fermenting lactose into acids and gases. This results in more lactose being fermented in the colon, which further increases flatulence.
This is a rarer symptom of Lactose Intolerance, and is thought to be caused by an increase in methane production in the colon, which slows
transit time in the gut.
Other symptoms of Lactose Intolerance include headaches, fatigue, loss of concentration, muscle and joint pain, mouth ulcers, problems urinating and eczema.
There are various tests that you can undergo in order to determine whether you are Lactose Intolerant or whether the symptoms you are suffering are for other reasons:
Hydrogen Breath Test
This involves drinking a liquid solution containing Lactose, and breathing into a balloon-like instrument at set intervals to determine how much hydrogen your breath contains. The more hydrogen you exhale, the more likely it is that you are Lactose Intolerant because your body is unable to process lactose.
Lactose Tolerance Test
This test also involves drinking a liquid containing lactose, and then having your blood sample tested for the quantity of glucose in your blood. If your blood glucose levels do not rise, this means that your body is not digesting or absorbing lactose.
Stool Acidity Test
This is generally confined to infants or smaller children who are not eligible for other tests. The stool sample will be tested to see if lactose is breaking down properly in their system. Fermenting lactose in the intestines (a sign of Lactose Intolerance) creates lactic acid which can be detected in the stools.
If you are Lactose Intolerant, you need to make some immediate dietary changes. Change to low lactose milk, almond milk or soy milk. Consult your doctor at the first sign of Lactose Intolerance so that you don’t have to endure unnecessary discomfort and ill health.
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