What is Lactose intolerance?
It is the most common carbohydrate intolerance. It is a condition in which patients can’t tolerate milk and milk products.
What causes Lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance arises due to insufficient or no production of the lactase enzyme in the body which is required for the hydrolysis (digestion) of the milk sugar ie lactose. Diarrhoea may also stop lactase production and can cause lactose intolerance for a week or two. Some medications and antibiotics can also cause temporary lactose intolerance.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
The symptoms of lactose intolerance generally appear between half-an-hour to two hours after milk or milk product’s consumption. Common symptoms are abdominal cramping, flatulence and diarrhoea, frothy acidic stools, stomach ache, bloating and gas, restlessness etc.
How can lactose intolerance be diagnosed?
The lactose tolerance test is conducted to determine the level of lactose tolerance in your baby. Blood samples are taken at regular intervals to determine the sugar levels.
How can you prevent lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is not exactly a disease and there is no treatment for it in the strict sense. However, it can certainly be prevented through measures like special lactose free food as well as some modifications in your diet.
Prevention for babies:
A lactose intolerant infant is put on low lactose special feeds by the doctor. Premature babies and very few term babies may be lactose intolerant. Complementary foods without milk and milk products should be given. Soy milk, tofu, almond milk etc. can be used.
Prevention for Adults:
The food labels must be read properly. Lactose or milk containing food items must be avoided. For instance cakes, breads, biscuits, readymade food etc may contain ingredients like milk solids, milk by-products, dairy creamers, curd, and whey. It is advisable to consult a dietician or a doctor to help in planning the diet. Foods like soya, tofu, soy milk, eggs, meats, fish, poultry, leafy greens, fortified juices, broccoli etc and commercially available low lactose milks can be given. It’s important to understand the individual’s tolerance levels and give foods accordingly. Small amount of milk in combination with other non-dairy food depending on the severity and under doctor’s guidance can be given.