Lactose intolerance is a digestive condition that is the inability to digest the lactose sugar in milk. It can cause stomach ache or other physical issues after consuming dairy products. Lactose intolerance is often hereditary – if a parent suffers from it, they are likely to pass it on to their children.
Premature babies can suffer from lactose intolerance because their bodies are not yet able to make enough lactase to digest milk lactose. Diseases or infections that affect the small intestine may also lead to lactose intolerance. For some, lactose intolerance can occur as a side effect of a surgical procedure.
A big concern for people with lactose intolerance is how the condition affects their digestive health. How exactly do you live a healthy lifestyle with lactose intolerance?
Symptoms and Causes of Lactose Intolerance
Common signs of lactose intolerance include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and pain in your abdomen. It is a very unpleasant and uncomfortable feeling you get after consuming dairy products, such as:
- Ice cream
- Sour cream
- Processed foods that have milk-based ingredients
Lactose intolerance occurs because your small intestines do not make enough lactase to break down the lactose in milk-based foods. The best way to manage this condition is by making changes to your diet.
Treatment for Lactose Intolerance
There is no known treatment for lactose intolerance, so the solution is prevention. You can effectively manage and prevent the symptoms by avoiding lactose. For instance, you can drink lactose-free milk that has lactase added to it.
It’s best to talk with your gastroenterologist about how to modify your diet without sacrificing the essential vitamins and nutrients that are found in milk and milk products, especially calcium. Your doctor will explain whether you have mild or severe lactose intolerance, and whether you can tolerate eating processed foods with milk ingredients or whether you must avoid them altogether.
You can ask your gastroenterologist about lactase pills and supplements. If your doctor says they may work for you, try taking them when you are about to eat foods and drinks that contain milk.
In the past, all patients with lactose intolerance were told to avoid dairy altogether. Today, doctors evaluate each individual and may recommend trying yogurt and hard cheeses, and observe whether these foods produce a negative reaction.
Gastroenterologist in Cleveland
If you are experiencing symptoms of lactose intolerance, our team of board-certified physicians at North Shore Gastroenterology will perform a thorough examination to provide an accurate diagnosis of your condition. Then, your gastroenterologist will develop a treatment plan that is highly individualized to your specific needs.
For over 25 years, our team of highly skilled physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants have been serving patients in the Greater Cleveland area – we have offices located in Westlake and Brooklyn, Ohio.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling (440) 808-1212, or request an appointment online now. Gastrointestinal conditions can affect your quality of life, and it is our mission to help you get back to living the life you enjoy.