The symptoms of lactose intolerance are unmistakable – abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea that set in a few minutes to an hour after consuming a product that contains lactose. Many people are lactose intolerant and must make dietary adjustments to remain symptom-free. The extent of the adjustments you need depends on your tolerance level.
So, is lactose only in dairy products? The short answer is: yes. If you want to avoid lactose, it’s important not to consume products that contain it. While most people know not to consume milk or yogurt, they overlook foods that contain a dairy product as an ingredient. For example, many processed foods contain lactose, such as bread, cereals, soups, deli meat, pancake mixes, candies, and cookies. These products contain dairy and components of dairy such as cream, condensed milk, dried milk, evaporated milk, milk derivatives, milk solids, milk powder, caseinate, sodium caseinate, curds, and whey – which are easy to overlook. Check the ingredient labels of products to ensure they are lactose-free if you are having symptoms even after taking out milk, yogurt, and other obvious products from your diet.
What Is Lactose Intolerance?
If you are lactose intolerant, you are unable to tolerate lactose. This is because your body cannot process it due to a lack of a digestive enzyme called lactase, which breaks down lactose. Lactose is a naturally occurring component found in milk and other dairy products. It can trigger uncomfortable symptoms in people that cannot tolerate it.
The Truth About Lactose-Free Products
Fortunately, if you are lactose intolerant, you don’t have to sacrifice too much in terms of diet. There are a lot of foods that lactose-intolerant people can consume without issues. These products contain lactose-free ingredients. These products are not free of lactose, but rather, they have lactase added to them, which helps your body process it better.
Diagnosing Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is hereditary. A person has an increased risk of developing it if their parent had it. However, the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance are not necessarily exclusive to the condition. You may experience the same symptoms due to another type of gastroenterological issue. For example, if you have a milk allergy, you are allergic to casein, a protein found in milk. In this case, you will still experience uncomfortable symptoms after consuming products that are tolerable for people with lactose intolerance.
If you are unsure whether you have an intolerance or sensitivity to lactose, you can get tested and diagnosed by a gastroenterologist. There are tests available that can determine if your symptoms are caused by a lactose issue or something else entirely. If you are diagnosed, a gastroenterologist can help you manage your symptoms and ensure that you are still getting essential vitamins and minerals with your necessary diet modifications.
Lactose Intolerance Testing and Management in Ohio
At Northshore Gastroenterology, we use hydrogen breath testing to diagnose lactose intolerance. Our experienced gastroenterology team will not only help you manage your lactose intolerance, we will also treat other digestive issues that may be associated with your condition.
To schedule a consultation, call Northshore Gastroenterology at (440) 808-1212 or submit an appointment request today. We look forward to serving you at our Westlake or Brooklyn clinic.