Lactose intolerance: What is it?

Lactose, the sugar in milk, cannot be fully absorbed by those who have lactose intolerance. They have diarrhoea, gas, and bloating as a result of consuming dairy products. Although the illness, which is also known as lactose malabsorption, is typically not harmful, some people may experience uncomfortable symptoms.

Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

Lactose intolerance is typically caused by insufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which is produced in the small intestine. You can digest milk products even if your lactase levels are low. However, if your levels are too low, you develop lactose intolerance and experience symptoms after consuming dairy products.

Most sufferers of lactose intolerance are able to control their disease without giving up all dairy products.




The first signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance typically appear 30 minutes to two hours after consuming or drinking lactose-containing meals or beverages. Typical indications and symptoms include:


  • Diarrhoea
  • vomiting occasionally and nausea
  • stomach aches
  • Bloating
  • Gas

Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

When to visit the doctor


If you frequently experience lactose intolerance symptoms after consuming dairy products, schedule a visit with your doctor, especially if you are concerned about receiving adequate calcium.



When your small intestine doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme (lactase) needed to digest milk sugar, lactose intolerance develops (lactose).


In a typical situation, lactase breaks down milk sugar into two simple sugars, glucose and galactose, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream through the gut tract.

If you lack the enzyme lactase, lactose from your diet travels into your colon rather than being broken down and absorbed. The signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance are brought on by an interaction between regular bacteria and undigested lactose in the gut.


Lactose intolerance comes in three different varieties. The lactase deficit underlying each type is brought on by various sources.


Primary intolerance to lactose


The most typical type of primary lactose intolerance is present from birth in all affected individuals. Lactase is required by infants, who obtain all of their nutrients from milk.


The quantity of lactase that children generate typically decreases when they switch from milk to other foods, but it typically stays high enough to digest the amount of dairy in a typical adult diet. Primary lactose intolerance is characterised by a significant decline in lactase production by maturity, which makes milk products challenging to digest.


Lactose intolerance that develops later


This type of lactose intolerance happens when your small intestine reduces lactase synthesis as a result of an infection, an injury, or small intestine surgery. Diseases include intestinal infection, celiac disease, bacterial overgrowth, and Crohn’s disease are linked to secondary lactose intolerance.


Though it may take some time, treating the underlying disease may help to reduce signs and symptoms and restore lactase levels.


Developmental or innate lactose intolerance


Babies with lactose intolerance brought on by a deficiency of lactase are unusual, but not impossible. Because this condition is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner from one generation to the next, both the mother and the father must pass on the same gene mutation for a kid to be afflicted. Due to low levels of lactase, premature newborns might potentially develop lactose intolerance.


Risk elements


You or your child may be more susceptible to lactose intolerance due to the following factors:

Risk Factors of Lactose Intolerance

Advancing years. Adulthood is when lactose intolerance typically manifests. When it comes to infants and young children, the condition is rare.


Ethnicity. The majority of people with lactose intolerance are of African, Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian origin.


Birth before term. Because lactase-producing cells in the small intestine don’t grow until late in the third trimester, premature infants may have lower amounts of lactase.


Ailments of the small intestine. Lactose intolerance can be brought on by bacterial overgrowth, celiac disease, and crohn’s disease, among other small intestine conditions.


Certain cancer therapies. Your risk of developing lactose intolerance rises if you’ve received radiation therapy for stomach cancer or intestinal side effects from chemotherapy.

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