Are you lactose intolerant?

By: Health Local Staff Jul 03, 2013
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

If you have ruled out the flu or other stomach viruses, the digestive problems you experience could point to lactose intolerance.

Have you noticed your body responding negatively following the consumption of dairy products? You could be suffering from lactose intolerance if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach and bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Bloody stool
  • Black tarry stools
  • Overall body fatigue
  • Pain when you eat
  • Fever that arises with bowel movements

If you have ruled out the flu or other stomach viruses, the digestive problems you experience could point to lactose intolerance. According to doctors and digestive specialists a person with lactose intolerance has trouble digesting a particular form of sugar that is found in most dairy products, such as milk. The sugar is known as lactose.

In order for the body to digest lactose the small intestine requires the lactase enzyme to break the substance down for processing. When there is not enough of the enzyme, problems may arise.

Here are a few questions to help determine if you have lactose intolerance:

  • After meals (in particularly dairy products), do you experience bloating, diarrhea and stomach upset?
  • Do your stomach issues seem to disappear when you stop eating milk-based dairy products?
  • Does eating dairy foods make you feel sick?
  • Does taking a lactase enzyme help your symptoms vanish?

If you answered yes to more than one of the above questions, you may be lactose intolerant. While influenza and stomach viruses may display similar symptoms, if you have targeted the problems to occur when you eat dairy, there is a great chance that you have lactose intolerance.

Symptoms usually occur within one to three hours following the consumption of lactose, but this time frame is a general guideline. Some individuals do not experience symptoms until the following morning or as soon as within 20 minutes of eating dairy products.

Who Is More Prone to Getting Lactose Intolerance?

Digestive problems can occur in adults and children, but lactose intolerance generally starts during the teen and early adulthood years. Lactose intolerance is very rare in infants.

The condition is common in particular parts of the world, with certain groups of people being more likely to be lactose intolerant. These groups of people include:

  • Asians
  • Africans
  • American Indians
  • Latinos and Hispanics
  • Those with a southern European heritage

Genetic factors also contribute to the condition. If the individual was born with a damaged or ill-formed small intestine, the production of lactase enzyme may be compromised. When there is less lactase produced, the individual may become lactose intolerant.

If you have concerns or have experienced symptoms for several weeks or months at a time, it is recommended that you seek medical attention. Help is available. You do not have to live with the pain, discomfort or embarrassment of being lactose intolerant.

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at