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Lactose is a kind of a sugar present in dairy products, especially milk. People who are lactose intolerant are unable to digest food that contains lactose. The food is excreted by the body as soon as the patient consumes the offending food.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance

After eating a dairy product, the person experiences one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Gas

  • Bloating

  • Gurgling

  • Nausea

Each patient has a different tolerance level. As soon as the tolerance limit is reached, the patient passes the food that he has eaten out.

Lactose and lactase -- the difference

Lactose is, as you know, a sugar present in milk whereas lactase is the enzyme present in the digestive system that helps in the digestion of lactose-rich diets. A lack of this enzyme makes a person lactose intolerant.

Which foods contain lactose?

Lactose is present in most foods and drinks that we consume in our daily life. Milk, yogurt, and ice-cream are foods that contain lots of lactose. Besides these, there are several other foods that contain lactose such as:

  • White bread

  • Bakery items including pizza

  • Cheese

  • Cream

  • Cereals

  • White chocolate

  • Candy

  • Salad dressings

You will be amazed to know that lactose is present in several prescription medicines including oral contraceptives or other birth control pills, syrups and drugs used for abdominal discomfort and gas relief.

Lactose intolerance is a very common gastrointestinal disorder. Research suggests that more than 70% of Americans are currently suffering from some degree of lactose intolerance. Different people have different tolerance ranges. Symptoms begin to appear if the amount of lactose in the stomach has reached the tolerance limit.

Lactose intolerance - treatment and prevention

Lactose intolerance is unfortunately, untreatable. The disease cannot be treated but can be managed by taking some necessary measures. Patients who suffer from this disorder need to cut down on foods rich in lactose. Patients should analyze which foods cause their problems.

Listed below are some other causes of indigestion. It should be kept in mind that all these diseases present with accompanying symptoms that differ from the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

  • Reflux disease

  • Constant use of broad spectrum antibiotics

  • Peptic ulcer

  • Stress and anxiety

It can sometimes be hard to diagnose the exact cause of the symptoms that you have explained. However, providing your family and medical history can help your physician diagnose the cause more quickly and effectively.

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